Plastic cutlery – what are the alternatives?
You may have heard the news that single use plastic cutlery will be banned in England!
This is to protect the environment and reduce wastage. Government figures suggest that 4.25bn pieces of single use cutlery are used in England per year which equates to each person using 37 items of plastic.* The main problem with plastic cutlery is that they are small and therefore hard to recycle; only 10% are recycled after being used.*
The news came as a bit of a surprise to the foodservice industry but similar bans have already been made. In Scotland the ban on single use cutlery came into force on the 1st of June 2022 and in the UK single-use plastic straws and stirrers were banned in in 2020.
So even though this may feel like a big change it really doesn’t need to be. We already know that when plastic straws were banned we all switched to paper straws and it has been widely accepted by customers. We also know that consumers want to see products that cause the least amount of harm to the environment, even more so the younger generation!
So what are the plastic cutlery alternatives?
Wooden cutlery has already been available for several years, but is definitely a ‘marmite’ type of product; you either love it or hate it! Wood is a natural material that naturally biodegrades and composts. It fits in perfectly with the trendy natural look that we see in the market, but it’s important to note that some consumers don’t like the feel of the cutlery when eating… as it feels like wood!
Paper cutlery is an innovative development, it looks like paper but is very robust. It has a silky-smooth feel and is ultra-light; suitable for both hot and cold food. Paper cutlery also looks stylish in a white paper finish and it is both commercially compostable and recyclable where acceptable. Both wooden and paper cutlery are available in fork, knife, spoon as well as popular multipacks.
Less talked about with the upcoming ban is that other items such as EPS cups and food packaging are also being banned. EPS is expandable polystyrene which is a great material for insulation and keeps food and drinks hotter for longer. The problem with EPS is that it creates a lot of waste as it is really hard to recycle. When exposed to the weather; if left to litter outside it breaks down to small pieces which look like food for animals which causes harm.
This is why we made the switch a while ago to alternatives and no longer offer EPS in either cup or food packaging format. The cup alternative for EPS is Paper Hot Cups and for packaging there are several options such as the Microflute Kraft Board packaging, which is a lightweight, sturdy hinged box that retains heat, can be used for cold food and in hot cabinets.
Another great alternative is bagasse packaging, which is made from recycled sugarcane fibre. It doesn’t trap condensation and hot food stays crispy. Bagasse is ideal for hot food such as curries, chips but also great for cold food.
Both these materials are commercially compostable where accepted. Microflute is also recyclable with card if dry and clean.
We did say it doesn’t need to be complicated, there are already options to choose from, whatever your preference! For more information on alternative products visit our Catering Supplies website.
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