Single-use plastic tableware and its alternatives: Recommendations from Life Cycle Assessments

Single-use plastic tableware and its alternatives: Recommendations from Life Cycle Assessments

Published: February 2021

Globally, billions of plastic forks, knives, spoons, bowls, plates and trays are produced each year to fuel the take-away food industry and stock hotels, hospitals and school catering systems. This report is a meta-analysis of six Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies to understand the environmental performance of single-use tableware and their alternatives. The analysis demonstrates that while there are multiple variables that affect the environmental impacts of both single-use and reusable tableware – including materials used in their production and end-of-life treatment – reusable tableware consistently outperforms single-use tableware in all the studies and across all environmental impact categories (with water use being the exception, because of washing).