I have long wondered how plastic cutlery and sustainability can co-exist. Until quite recently, I have vaguely known that some cutlery is compostable (after I use it). While better than just tossing it into the inevitably easily accessible trash can, composting the product does not really lead to productive re-use. I have been wondering whether a “better way” existed, and recently I have learned about some products and processes that do just that. Some of the cutlery on the market today is either recyclable, dishwasher safe (or both), or even not made from petroleum based plastic at all, but rather from plant products.
Perhaps the most impressive brand are the various line of cutlery and plates/cups from Preserveproducts.com, mostly because all of their products are both dishwasher safe and made entirely from recycled plastic (number 5 plastic). They even have a program called Gimme5 where they will accept number 5 plastics, which are in turn repurposed into a variety of utensils, plates, and cups. As their website says, some lines are designed for hundreds of uses, some are designed for thousands of uses. Another brand (Diamond) has a couple of lines of cutlery that are dishwasher safe (top rack). A reusable product, made from recycled materials, sounds like a sustainable loop to me.
Another option is to recycle the cutlery after use (probably after at least a quick rinse). While to my mind a little less sustainable than the dishwasher option, that does have the benefit of at least the plastic in the cutlery is being re-used somehow. Both the number 5 plasticware from Preserve Product, and the number 6 plasticware from Diamond are recyclable. All of Diamond’s lines of cutlery are recyclable, even if only some of them are dishwasher safe.
A different option is provided by the Sustyparty brand. Their cutlery isn’t made from plastic at all–it is made from plants. Actually, it is made from plants that are themselves renewable, or sustainably harvested, or from salvage plant material. Another aspect the company is proud of is that their product is compostable, such as in a home compost bin like mine. This is most effective if the cutlery has been cut up into smaller pieces first. For those who have a home compost bin, and are willing to cut up the used cutlery, this can be an interesting option.
Not too long ago, the only option for such cutlery was new plastic as the source and a landfill as the ultimate destination. It is very gratifying to know that I have additional options (dishwasher safe, recycled and recyclable, (somewhat) compostable, and even sourced from plants. Even better, all of these are readily accessible in any well-stocked supermarket (or website). These meals and events have become much more enjoyable.