Disposable dinnerware

Plastic cutlery on a white paper plate

The facts about disposable dinnerware

In Australia plastic plates and cutlery cannot be easily recycled. Even when plates are made from recyclable plastic, because they are flat recycling machines will often mistakenly sort them as paper. Plastic cutlery is the wrong shape to be correctly sorted by recycling machines, which are designed to separate containers like bottles and tubs. These items usually end up in landfill and take centuries to break down.

The good news about disposable dinnerware

Alternatives for plastic dinnerware are becoming more widely available, such as biodegradable products made from recycled paper, bamboo and sugarcane. One company in India has even launched the world's first edible cutlery. Even if you do buy plastic dinnerware, there are durable, reusable versions made from kerbside recycled plastic.

What can you do about disposable dinnerware?

Say no to disposable dinnerware

Reduce, reuse recycle. Do you really need to use disposable cutlery? Take cutlery from your kitchen drawer to picnics and use reusable dinnerware when entertaining at home. If you're short you could hire some, ask your guests to bring their own, or buy cutlery and crockery from your local charity shop and return it afterwards. France has gone as far as to pass a law to ban plastic dinnerware from 2020.

Buy biodegradable dinnerware if necessary

If you cannot avoid disposable dinnerware, consider biodegradable products such as paper, bamboo and sugarcane, or even edible cutlery.

Dump chopsticks while you're at it

According to Greenpeace, almost 4 million trees are sacrificed to produce 57 billion pairs of chopsticks each year. When you're out or ordering takeaway, say no to chopsticks and disposable cutlery.

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