Disposable Cutlery

Monday, 17 September 2012 | Tags: , , , , ,

If you're often on the go, you'll no doubt be familiar with eating on the road. With all that take-out food that comes the need for eating utensils. We put 5 eco-friendly brands to the test to see if they could cut it against regular plastic tools.


  • While disposable plastic cutlery is recyclable, it usually ends up in the garbage can rather than in the blue bin.

  • Eco-friendly disposable cutlery materials include:

    • Wood: Natural and renewable, wood was the first cutlery material ever used. It can be made of any type of hardwood, like birch, maple, and bamboo. Because wood is porous, it absorbs substances and bacteria, which means it should never be reused. Wood is compostable, but beware of “recycled” wood materials. The recycling process may add harsh chemicals to the wood’s properties. Wood cutlery may also be slightly prone to splinters or cracks if not stored properly.

    • Bio Plastic: This material usually comes a non-fossil fuel, biological and renewable source, like corn starch, soybean, hemp oil, vegetable oils, animal fats, or cellulose. These materials tend to fail due to limitations in impact strength, melt strength, and low heat resistance. As a result, additives (like talc) are included in the material blends to add strength.

Compostable, Degradable, Biodegradable…

  • Compostable plastic means it can undergo biological decomposition under proper conditions, breaking down into CO2, H20, inorganic compounds, and biomass at an acceptable rate, leaving no toxic residue.

  • Biodegradable plastic means it will degrade with the help of natural microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, etc.) over time. The particles left behind will be consumed by microorganisms, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the resulting product is non-toxic. (I.e. usable in compost)

  • Degradable plastic undergoes significant changes in composition under specific environmental conditions. This doesn’t mean it is safe or eco-friendly.


We took four different eco-friendly disposable cutlery options and measured their performance against plain old plastic cutlery for cutting ability, spoon size, pick-up ability, and feel. We tested:

  • “Great Value” party pack (Walmart brand): $0.03/piece

    • Plastic (non-renewable, petroleum-based), recyclable (6) where facilities exist

  • Taterware Cutlery: $0.05/piece

    • Made from GMO-free potatoes (renewable resource), biodegradable (not compostable or recyclable)

  • World Centric: $0.17/piece

    • Made from 70% non-GMO corn, 30% talc. Certified compostable (not recyclable)
  • Aspenware: $0.25/piece

    • Made from fast-growing but short-lived birch or aspen trees. Sprayed with kosher confectioner’s glaze to eliminate wood taste. Compostable, biodegradable.
  • Bambu Veneerware: $0.54/piece

    • Made from 100% bamboo, certified organic, biodegradable, compostable.

Cutting Ability (Knives)

  • Plastic offered the sharpest knife of the bunch.

  • The others were about the same as far as slicing through a steak, but the bamboo could barely cut it.

Pick-up Ability (Forks)

  • When it came to picking up pieces of food, both hard (carrots) and soft (noodles), the smooth bamboo tines just couldn’t pierce the pieces, while all of the options were able to spear the pieces with ease.

Spoon size

  • The World Centric line scooped a generous amount compared to the others.


  • The wooden cutlery just didn’t quite feel right due to its comparatively roughened texture.


While the plastic was a cut above the rest as far as performance, we liked the World Centric line for its eco-friendliness, durability, and spoon size.


Some products & services provided to 
Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag ep. 68 courtesy of:

Nor-Fin Enterprises


top of page | | back to posts |
  • Subscribe to the A&K Newsletter