Discontinuing single use plastic utensils can save a workplace several thousands of dollars annually. In 2010, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Green Team gave all their employees a cloth napkin and set of stainless steel utensils and removed all plastic flatware from their facility.
Company officials estimate the decision saves between $3000 and $4000, annually. Many workplaces have a dishwasher, but even without a dishwasher, reusable cutlery can easily be cleaned in a sink.
Beyond the financial savings, it’s important to understand that very few utensils can be recycled. Curbside recycling programs do not accept their type of plastic, so it winds up in landfills.
The UK grocery giant, Asda, (a subsidiary of Walmart) as well as the entire nation of France are leading the move to remove plastic single-use cutlery. Realizing that plastic simply does not go away, their initiatives inspire others to follow suit.
Asda’s strategy is part of a larger company initiative called “Plastic Unwrapped” pledge to use less and recycle more. The program includes reusable bags, reusable coffee cups, paper straws, clear plastic, cardboard pizza boards, and single polymer plastics.
France mandates that by 2020, plastic dinnerware will be gone. The law is part of the 2015 Energy Transition for Green Growth Act which intends to lead the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, diverse energy models, and utilizing renewable energy resources. Bans on plastic flatware follow the trend away from plastic bags and single-use cups.
Workplaces can encourage a change in employee habits by providing a place to wash flatware and encouraging a BYOF (Bring Your Own Flatware) atmosphere. By getting rid of plastic cutlery, a company guarantees that the items put into the recycling bins will actually be recycled, and not be contaminated with items that will not be recycled and just go to a landfill. This is an easy to initiate first step that will not only save a company money, but also save the environment.