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Compostable cutlery: What is it and what are the options available on the market?
So, we have all been there… you are hosting a big event for a birthday or wedding, or maybe you’re going for a picnic or a camping trip, and you can’t use your own valuable metal/silver cutlery. The go to option in this event is disposable plastic cutlery designed to be used for 10 minutes and sit in a landfill for thousands of years, so you can’t choose that, right?
Because of this, you decide that it is worth spending a little bit more on your event/business and use the eco-friendly solution to single use cutlery; biodegradable cutlery. This solves two problems; your friends/customers will know that you’ve considered the impact of your event on the environment and you will be at ease knowing that your disposable cutlery can be composted in a matter of months. When you investigate buying compostable cutlery for your event, you discover that there are multiple different types and hundreds of different brands providing compostable cutlery solutions… Which one are you meant to choose??
Well we are here to help! We have years of experience in the eco-friendly kitchenware industry working for both private and business clients, and we have learned just about everything there is to know about Compostable cutlery in this time. So sit back, read our summary of the industry, and feel relieved in the knowledge that by the end of this article you will also know EVERYTHING there is to know about compostable cutlery.
First of all what even is compostable cutlery, is it the same as biodegradable cutlery? The answer is, in most cases, biodegradable cutlery and compostable cutlery mean the same thing. The small difference is the label ‘biodegradable’ is sometimes used to describe cutlery made from OXO plastics. To be clear, these plastics are NOT compostable and only biodegrade very slowly, so we will not include them in this market summary report. Compostable generally means that they will produce quality compost when placed in a composting environment that can be used to grow future crops. All the compostable silverware solutions that are listed in this article ARE compostable and by extension of this also biodegradable. In this article we review four different types of Compostable Cutlery and reveal the best brand for each category. The four types of cutlery can be found below, along with a link to their Amazon Product Listings:
- PLA/CPLA cutlery made from Corn-starch
Available on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2mWgqPa
- Wooden cutlery made from birchwood or bamboo
Available on Amazon at: Amazon: https://amzn.to/2mqFT2S
- Cutlery made from Avocado stones (Avoplastic)
Available on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2mRW7SQ
- Cutlery made from Compressed Bagasse
Available on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2kPBhCY
To help you discover which one of these options is right for you and your event, we need to learn more about each of these solutions to make an educated decision.
PLA/CPLA cutlery made from Corn-starch:
There are two different types of corn-starch based natural polymer from which compostable utensils are made; these are PLA (Polylactic Acid) and CPLA, which is a tougher crystallised version of PLA. PLA was the first created by Cargill chemist Wallace Carothers in the 1920s who was searching for new innovative ways in which corn could be used to produce environmentally benign products.
Despite being made from renewable corn-starch instead of non-replenishable oil, PLA and plastic have similar material properties. They are both hard and able to hold and cut food equally well however the melting point and brittleness of PLA provide issues for tough use such as cutlery for multiple course meals.
Introducing CPLA! CPLA is made from the same base ingredients as PLA, however has undergone a crystallisation process during manufacturing to provide both an increased melting point and flexibility. Where as cutlery made from PLA will break like single-use plastic utensils when bent too far, CPLA is extremely tough and flexible. For this reason, cutlery made from CPLA is perfect for upper-scale dining occasions where the event organiser wants to provide their attendees with the highest-quality compostable cutlery. As the sturdiest of all disposable cutlery options, utensils made from CPLA are the ideal option for formal events with catering such as weddings, funerals, functions, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs and engagement celebrations.
Click on the link or the image to purchase our top pick for the best CPLA cutlery available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2mWgqPa
Wooden cutlery made from Birchwood and Bamboo:
As a slightly cheaper and more downscale option to CPLA, wooden cutlery provides a relatively sturdy solution to single use disposable plastic utensils. As you would expect from the lower price tag, wooden cutlery has quite a few cons that aren’t a problem with CPLA. The main problem is the frequency at which wooden utensils break, leaving splinters in people’s food, mouth and hands. Wooden cutlery also leaves the user with an unpleasant popsicle aftertaste in their mouth and can ruin the flavour of the meal being served.
Despite the negatives of using cutlery made from wood at events, there are some benefits. Typically, wooden cutlery is best suited to small meals where not much cutting is involved such as for dishes like Chili con carne, stew and soup. Due to most of the meals not requiring substantial cutting, Mexican restaurants often use wooden cutlery for their take-out orders along with bagasse burrito bowls made from sugarcane.
Here is a link to our choice for the best wooden cutlery available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2mqFT2S
Cutlery made from Avocado stones (Avoplastic):
Avoplastic utensils are the newest and arguably the most novel solution to providing the market with compostable cutlery. Plastic made from Avocado seeds made international news in 2012 when Mexican chemist Scott Mungia discovered that plastic alternatives could be made from the leftover avocado pits (of which there were many in Mexico, eureka!) to produce a compostable plastic like substance. By 2013, the very same Chemist founded company Biofase began production of disposable cutlery, straws and other disposable party supplies.
Although new and exciting, the reviews on compostable utensils made from avocado stones have been mixed. On Amazon Biofase’s compostable cutlery only have an average review star rating of 3.6 stars and are only available in combo packs of 24 (8 compostable spoons, 8 compostable knives and 8 compostable forks). Due to Biofase’s grip on the avocado plastic market, this is the only available pack of compostable utensils made from avocado stones on amazon. For this reason, unless a pack of 24 utensils will suffice, compostable cutlery made from avocado-based plastic is not a viable solution for events such as weddings and birthdays where many sets of biodegradable utensils are required.
Click on the image below or the link to view our choice for the best avocado stone cutlery available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2mRW7SQ
Cutlery made from Compressed Sugar Cane Fibre (Bagasse):
Typically, compostable plastic utensils are made from PLA and CPLA derived from Corn-starch, however as of 2019, cutlery made from Bagasse is also available. Bagasse is a fibrous pulp which remains after sugar cane is processes to produce sugar. Typically, bagasse is used to produce eco-friendly flatware such as compostable plates, bowls and eating containers, however it has also recently been used to produce cutlery.
Bagasse cutlery is an interesting experiment; however, it is not commercially available in bulk yet. There are also several design flaws with cutlery made from bagasse; the main one being that bagasse absorbs water and becomes extremely structurally impaired. This issue is not as much of a problem with bagasse plates and bowls, however when used for cutlery this loss of structural integrity upon contact with moisture can really prove detrimental to the performance of the utensils. The only good bagasse cutlery available on the market currently can be found on Amazon in the USA; there is a link to this cutlery below.
Click on the link below or the image to view our choice for the best bagasse cutlery available on Amazon in the USA: https://amzn.to/2kPBhCY
Conclusions: Which cutlery should you choose?
Deciding which type of compostable cutlery is right for you and your event attendees or customers is critical in organising a successful catered event. Choosing the right brand of eco-friendly tableware is also critical for allowing your guests to recognise that they have been given an environmentally friendly alternative. People overwhelmingly feel guilty when they know they have consumed a large amount of single-use plastic which is likely to exist in the environment for millennia to come, so it is essential that the cutlery you provide your guests lets them know that they are using a sustainable alternative. When they know this, the guests can feel good that they aren’t damaging the environment and you can feel good knowing that your event caused minimal environmental impact.
Because this is such an important decision for you to make on behalf of yourself and your event attendees, we have summarised our extensive knowledge on the subject of environmentally friendly tableware into an informative table so that you can make the correct informed purchasing decision:
For almost all high end catered events, the best solution for eco-friendly disposable cutlery is cutlery made from CPLA. Not only is such cutlery compostable, but it also has a much lower CO2 footprint and energy usage when compared to plastic cutlery and is much more sturdy than wooden cutlery.
Here at GreenGrove, we produce our personal brand of high-quality CPLA Cutlery. We asked our customers what they wanted the most out of their compostable cutlery, and they told us that wanted maximum durability, strength and environmental benefit. With this knowledge, we set out to produce THE perfect Compostable Cutlery Set. Unlink all our competitors who use premade and non-customised PLA formulas to produce their biodegradable utensils, we have innovated the composition of the already stronger CPLA variant so that its material properties are perfect for strong, durable high-quality cutlery. We also understand the importance of sustainability to our customers, so we have committed to planting a tree for every box of cutlery bought! If you own a restaurant or catering company that uses one box per week, you could plant 52 trees in a year passively at no extra cost to yourself… that’s a large grove of trees planted every year! I guess there’s a reason we are called Green Grove 😊
Click on the image or the link below to check out the full range of Compostable cutlery, available in multiple colors and box sizes with Free Shipping! Recieve 40% off your first order when you visit https://greenergrove.com/