How can restaurants reduce the use of disposable plastic dinnerware?

Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These items are things like plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging.

In China, since the plastic ban in January, many milk tea stores have been replacing disposable plastic straws with paper straws since January, however, due to the deformation of paper straws and the impact on the taste of some drinks, they have been frequently trolled by customers and thus made the Sina Weibo search list causing a big discussion across the internet. So, what can restaurants do to reduce the use of disposable plastic tableware?


Use biodegradable disposable dinnerware

Discount for eco reusable dinnerware

Provide reusable dinnerware options in shop

Reusable biodegradable dinnerware provided in-store dining

How much plastic will the world produce each year?

How much plastic will the world produce each year?
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How much plastic will the world produce each year?
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How much plastic will enter the ocean?

How much plastic will enter the ocean?
Data from

   At present, the annual demand for disposable tableware in China is about 15 billion, more than 90% of them are non degradable plastic, especially in east China and South China where the economy is more developed.

   It is true that disposable,short-life products bring great convenience to life, but also carry a big burden to the natural environment. As we know plastic tableware is not easy to be biodegradable, and also the increasing garbage derivative problem of air pollution, thus, it may fall into blocking the drainage ditches, or killing animals, and harming the biological environment.

What can we choose as a substitute for disposable plastic tableware?

Under the new plastic ban, most businesses respond to the national call to use other biodegradable disposable tableware instead of disposable plastic tableware, such as disposable paper tableware, PBAT material takeaway packaging, even KFC use wooden spoon as suitable for plastic spoon.

If you were a restaurant operator or tableware retailer, how would you choose?

Dinnerware divided 2 usages:disposable and reusable.

For disposable dinnerware:

Use biodegradable disposable dinnerware

Take straws as an example, besides disposable plastic straws, what other biodegradable straws are available?

There are three kinds of straws widely used in the market now:Paper straw,PLA straw and Bamboo fiber straw.

Different strawsBamboo fiber strawPLA strawPaper straw
Temperature range-20°C -90°C0°C -45°C0°C -60°C
Bubble teaYesYesYes
Performance comparison for bamboo fiber straw,PLA straw and paper straw

As reported published on Jan. 28, written by the Chinese Biodegradable Materials Research Institute, the unit cost for paper straw is around 3 times than non degradable disposable straw, however, many consumers feedback that paper tableware will affect the taste of food, especially liquid food, we totally know that customer complaints and chargebacks will greatly affect brand reputation and customer loyalty,so how about PLA/PBS straw and bamboo fiber straw?

Price for PLA straw and bamboo fiber straw are similar,around 5-6 times than non degradable disposable straw.

PLA straws can not be used for hot drinks, but for cold drinks because of the limitation of raw material performance, it will automatically decompose under the effect of temperature higher than 45℃. At the same time, we should pay special attention to the temperature during the transportation and storage of PLA straws, as long time high temperature will lead to the deformation of PLA straws.

After high temperature extrusion of bamboo fiber straws have good resistance to water, unlike paper straws so easily soaked and softened, in cold drinks can maintain the basic form of 2 hours. However, the hardness will still decline after a long time of soaking, so it is recommended that the use process should be as short as possible to avoid long periods of immersion. Bamboo straws have a shelf life of up to 2 years when stored in cool, dry and light-proof conditions.

Discount for eco reusable dinnerware

Starbucks, for example, which has more than 4,700 stores in China, has introduced a bring-your-own-cup discount since 2018: if customers bring their own cups, they can reduce 4 RMB per cup, in USD is 0.65. This practice is both environmentally friendly and provides a discount for customers, which not only saves a lot of disposable tableware in the long run,at same time,customers will think the brand focus on environment and me by saving a disposable cup to protect our earth.

Provide reusable dinnerware options in shop

Same reason,if you are an owner for juice,provide high quality reusable straw and provide eco discount for customers,customers will fill proud for saving.

For reusable dinnerware:

Reusable biodegradable dinnerware provided in-store dining

If I want to reduce the use of disposable tableware, does it make me 100% environmentally friendly to use any kind of reusable tableware?

The answer is no. We all know that the common reusable tableware includes ceramic/glass tableware, stainless steel tableware, pure bamboo tableware, and laminate tableware, but do you know the advantages and disadvantages of different material cup?

Ceramic/Glass cup:nice and advanced but heavy and fragile, suitable for home use, inconvenient to carry,The degradation of glass takes about 5000 years.

Normally, once broken, ceramic or glass products are discarded, which is very wasteful in terms of resources.

Wooden cup:Pure bamboo products are naturally thick, not fragile and stronger. But not suitable for dishwasher, as well as long time use, easy to crack breeding bacteria, will have a bad impact on the body.

Stainless steel cup: durable and fall-proof, thermal conductivity is too strong, if used for hot drinks,it’s easy to scald, suitable for low temperature use.

And tea,coffee and carbonated beverages will slightly corrode stainless steel.

Melamine + bamboo fiber cup: Support patterns, Pantone color customization, supporting environmental protection silicone ring to prevent burns, high and low temperature drinks are applicable, lightweight and non-spill out, easy to carry, but not 100% biodegradable.

PLA/PBAT + bamboo fiber cup:Pantone color and simple logo acceptable, unbreakable,with silicone sleeve prevent burns from hot drink, leakproof and 100% biodegradable,suit for hot and cold food.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, compared to the slow growth cycle of wood, bamboo products are more productive. PLA and PBAT are biodegradable tableware materials (specifically about biodegradable materials, pls click here)

PLA/PBAT help bamboo fiber can be molded, and they’re not denatured in production.

 All in all, compared to different material dinnerware, PLA/PBAT + bamboo fiber dinnerware has a good market prospect and achieves 100% environmental protection, in bamboo fiber extraction there is no chemical composition such as talc powder and bleach added in bamboo fiber raw materials.No waste liquid, harmful gas or waste residue pollution in the production process. After use, the products are buried in the soil and degraded into organic fertilizer by nature within 6 months.

At the end of 2020, a small number of eco dinnerware sellers have begun to sell PLA/PBAT + bamboo fiber dinnerware in the USA, AU, Korea, and other countries.

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