Disposable Cutlery – Marching Towards an Era of Sustainability

In the last ten years, stringent regulations were formulated by government agencies over the use of single-use plastic and other forms of plastic worldwide. In the current scenario, environment safety is one of the most important talking point in an array of industries. Disposable cutlery, for several years has contributed towards the degradation of the environment. However, growing awareness regarding the impact of disposable cutlery on the environment has prompted consumer as well as manufacturers towards sustainable and environment-friendly disposable cutlery alternatives. Further, disposable cutlery has gravely contributed towards plastic marine litter in the past few decades causing significant damage to marine life. However, owing to advancements in technology and onset of innovations, eco-friendly disposable cutlery items are entering the food packaging scene. In addition, present day consumers are highly conscious about using products that have a negative impact on the environment. Thus, active and upcoming market players are consistently devoting resources towards the development of sustainable and greener disposable cutlery in the current scenario.

Fast-food Companies Aim to Curb Their Plastic Footprint

Over the past few years, food and fast food companies are striving hard to overthrow plastic and replace plastic products with environment-friendly alternatives. Although disposable plastic cutlery are made from recyclable polystyrene and polypropylene, only a small proportion of disposable plastic cutlery is recycled. Further, the remaining cutlery is either dumped into landfills or throw into the environment – a major threat to wildlife. In addition, as more consumer are disassociating themselves with brands that use plastic, food delivery and fast food companies are leaning towards the adoption of product made from alternative materials. In 2018, McDonalds announced that the company is steering clear from plastic disposable cutlery and adopting greener alternatives. Thus, McDonalds introduced a range of environment-friendly cutlery including, stirrers, knives, spoons, forks, etc. made from wood. In addition, the plastic cups have paved way for paper cups made from paper and other biodegradable materials derived from corn starch.

In 2019, KFC, one of the most prominent names in the quick-service restaurant space revealed that the company is stepping up its efforts to ensure that consumer-facing packaging across all their chains on the global-scale is reusable and recoverable. In addition, the initiative complements the company’s long-term program to adopt sustainable packaging strategies.

Tableware Made From Natural Materials Take Center Stage

Mounting concerns over the use of plastic has paved way for alternative materials including, paper, bamboo, wood, and sugarcane (bagasse) among others. In the last couple of years, disposable cutlery made from wood, bamboo, and bagasse have garnered significant interest. In addition, as bagasse products have the ability to decompose between 60-90 days, sugarcane, or bagasse has emerged as an excellent substitute for plastic cups and dishes. In addition, owing to its exceptional ability to withstand high temperatures, bagasse has emerged as one of the most cost-effective and eco-friendly material for food packaging applications. For a large period of time, ‘sustainable packaging’ was a major challenge for the restaurant industry. However, with the advent of disposable cutlery made from bagasse, wood, and paper, sustainable packaging has come a long way. The demand for greener and eco-friendly disposable cutlery has played an imperative role in changing the overall dynamics of the current market landscape. Further, strict government regulations over the use of plastic worldwide, growing consumer awareness pertaining to environment safety, and penetration of greener alternatives are some of the major factors that are likely to define the future of the disposable cutlery market.