Disposable plastic cutlery is one of the primary reasons for plastic pollution. That’s why governments and non-profit organizations are calling for action and a switch to sustainable or reusable cutlery. Business owners are actively incorporating eco-friendly practices into their companies. One of the restaurant industry trends is to reduce the ecological footprint and be more green. This article is part of our series on eco-friendly restaurants. In the following lines, we’ll share more details on what are the plastic alternatives for restaurants when it comes to cutlery.
Types of Sustainable Cutlery
Wooden and Bamboo Cutlery
There are both disposable and reusable cutlery sets made of bamboo or wood. One of the main pros of these types is that they can be very stylish. Bamboo cutlery and wooden tableware can be especially good for eco-friendly restaurants that are near a forest or close to nature. These products are usually compostable and biodegradable too. If that type of cutlery suits your needs, make sure you purchase it from sustainable suppliers. That way, you know that it has been made from sustainably sourced materials.
Wheat Straw and Cornstarch Cutlery
Both these categories are biodegradable. Most brands on the market are compostable as well and can be used in a restaurant’s composting program. Other advantages are that they are lightweight and stylish. With the increased demand for sustainable and reusable cutlery, the prices of these products have been gradually dropping in recent years.
Even though this category is not suitable for many businesses, it is expected to increase in popularity. It can often be used by food trucks or ice cream stands. Needless to say, edible cutlery is not reusable. However, they can be composted and they are biodegradable. Edible cutlery is made from different materials. Among the popular ones are rice, wheat, and sorghum.
Food-grade silicone is heat-resistant and durable. An additional advantage of this category of reusable cutlery is that silicone is very easy to clean.
This is probably the most common category of reusable cutlery. It’s used in a variety of restaurants and food service establishments. Usually, they are made of stainless steel. However, there are a variety of different materials that can be used to make metal cutlery. In recent years, titanium cutlery has become popular. Their stylish looks combined with the increased durability of the material make them a great choice for reusable cutlery. Aluminum cutlery and utensils are popular for outdoor events such as camping or hiking. They are not as suitable for restaurants as stainless steel and titanium ones. That’s due to the fact that aluminum is a very good heat conductor.
Key takeaway: Restaurants that use single-use plastic cutlery can reduce their ecological footprint by switching to biodegradable or reusable cutlery. Some of the popular materials for such goods include wood, metal, and silicone.
Steps to Introduce Sustainable and Reusable Cutlery
If you wish to use eco-friendly cutlery in your restaurant, here are the steps to do so.
- Assess the needs and identify the type of tableware needed. Take into consideration factors such as dishwasher capacity and the usual number of guests. You need to purchase enough cutlery even if the place is fully booked. Keep in mind that different types of reusable cutlery have different durability. So, make sure to stock extra tableware.
- Find suppliers. Either contact manufacturers or distributors of restaurant supplies. The main benefit of working with suppliers is that they have a wide range of options in their catalogs.
- Set up a dishwashing process. If a restaurant uses single-use tableware, it might not have a dishwasher. You will need to take that into consideration as well when planning the investment in reusable cutlery.
- Prepare the staff. You’ll need to communicate with the staff regarding the change to reusable cutlery. That way, they can properly handle the tableware and communicate with customers everything regarding the cutlery. Consider implementing a deposit system where customers get a refund when they return the cutlery. Make sure the staff encourages customers to become more environmentally conscious as well.
- Maintain high sanitation standards. The food service industry has higher hygiene standards compared to other businesses. That’s especially true with reusable tableware.
- Discover other areas where you can introduce green policies. A few examples can include eco-friendly packaging, buying in bulk, and sourcing local ingredients.
Other Green Practices in Restaurants
There are a number of green policies that can be implemented in a restaurant in order to make the business more eco-friendly. Allow us to briefly share some of them.
- Use eco-friendly containers and bags. Delivery and takeout containers are among the most used restaurant supplies. They are often made of disposable plastic. Instead, both the containers and the bags can be made of cardboard and paper. The same is true for other supplies used by restaurants. Businesses can partner with distributors of wholesale paper products that specialize in eco-friendly and sustainably sourced goods. In addition, a restaurant can purchase wholesale janitorial supplies that are eco-friendly and don’t harm the environment.
- Buy in bulk. By purchasing large quantities of different items from wholesale businesses, you cut costs. Furthermore, it also means that you reduce your ecological footprint. That’s due to reduced transportation and packaging.
- Reduce waste. Even though composting solutions for restaurants can be challenging, they are becoming increasingly popular. Restaurant managers can attract environmentally conscious customers if they introduce a composting program.
- Reduce energy consumption. One of the trends in the food and beverage industry is to use appliances and lighting with high energy efficiency. Additionally, a lot of businesses use their own renewable energy sources.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sustainable and Reusable Cutlery
The market for green goods is rapidly growing and changing. Business owners can have a hard time catching up with the latest trends. That’s why we’ve shared some of the commonly asked questions and their answers.
What Other Businesses Might Buy Reusable Cutlery?
A wide range of companies are introducing green policies and switching to sustainable practices. Here are some other businesses that might be interested in purchasing reusable cutlery.
- Event planners and catering businesses. They can rent reusable cutlery and tableware for various events.
- Institutions. Universities and public institutions should lead by example. They can introduce sustainable tableware in their cafeterias and other places where food is served.
- Eco-friendly vendors and retailers. Many new businesses have emerged in the eco-friendly business niche. They might find suppliers of sustainable goods and sell them retail. Furthermore, vendors that sell natural and organic products can also introduce sustainable goods like cutlery.
Is Reusable Cutlery More Expensive?
Generally speaking, yes, reusable cutlery is more expensive. However, if it’s treated as an investment, it can save the business a lot of money in the long run. That’s because the business won’t need to constantly purchase single-use items from plastic wholesale distributors. Furthermore, restaurant sustainability can be used in a restaurant’s marketing. The fact that a business is actively trying to switch to eco-friendly supplies is likely to attract new customers.
What Are the Disadvantages of Reusable Cutlery?
Even though there are many benefits of reusable cutlery, there are cons too. For example, it will take more time for the staff to wash and clean utensils and cutlery. The business might also need to invest in additional dishwashers. As a way to minimize the business expenses and cost of goods sold, some businesses might reuse single-use cutlery that’s not suitable to be washed or used again. Treating such flatware with hot water might make them hazardous.