Q&A;: Eco-Friendly Disposable Cutlery?

Q. We operate in the takeaway food service industry. What do you recommend in the way of environmentally friendly disposable cutlery (to replace current plastic)? I have heard of bamboo cutlery, and starch products but can't find out much about them. Regards, Warren
A.We're glad you asked, Warren. Lucky for you, there are a bevy of options out there for you, and lots of them can be found right here at TreeHugger! Let's start with the ones we know.
  • Nat-Ur makes cutlery from Cereplast, a biodegradable resin made from corn and potato starch. These qualify as "compostable" rather than "biodegradable," meaning they break down more readily than simply biodegradable bioplastic.

  • Gaiam makes a whole place setting from switchgrass, a high-yield perennial grass native to North America. They are covered in cornstarch to provide strength, even when wet, and durability -- they're even dishwasher safe!

  • Sinlessbuying.com is a great resource for disposable dinnerware. They're made from 100% Bagasse, which is the fibrous pulp left over after processing sugar cane.

  • Plantic is a company local to Warren in Australia, and, though they specialize in bioplastic packaging rather than cutlery, we're willing to bet that there's a place for them in take-out food.

There are several more that we found after a quick browse through the virtual world of disposable cutlery. For starters, Warren may want to take a peek at Plastral, an Australian site with some good local info about bioplastics. After that, click on over to Alibaba.com for a big list of biodegradable/compostable cutlery manufacturers. For a slightly more persistent option, Australian-based BD Kemp makes wooden cutlery from "controlled ecological forest cultivation," meaning they only take as much as can grow back in the same time.

This list just scratches the surface, of course. For more info on bioplastics, Metabolix is a good place to start, and Natureworks has a wide variety of products and applications for biodegradable plastic. Hope this helps, Warren, and thanks for asking!