The Pros and Cons of Using Disposable Tableware for Your Restaurant

Silverware is one of the biggest challenges that any restaurant faces. It seems to disappear faster than socks in the laundry room, and no matter how hard you try, you run into problems that give your guests a bad impression before they even get their food.

Avoid problems like spots, pitting, and unclean silverware by choosing biodegradable and disposable tableware for your restaurant. Since deciding between reusable and disposable tableware can be challenging, it’s helpful to learn more about the pros and cons of disposable tableware.

disposable tableware

Types of Disposable Tableware for Restaurants

Here are some of the most common types of disposable products you’ll find at a restaurant:

    • Flatware
    • Dinnerware
    • To-go packaging
    • Beverage containers
    • Straws
    • Napkins
    • Trays

Many of these items have been made with plastics or polystyrene foam for the last several decades. However, as more people become concerned about waste and the environment, products like foam containers and plastic straws are being banned.

Plastic will eventually break down, but it doesn’t decompose. Fortunately, renewable products, such as paper straws, are available that degrade quickly and won’t harm the environment.

The Benefits of Disposables for Restaurants

There are a lot of benefits to using disposable tableware, and when you choose renewable products like bamboo utensils, which are made from biodegradable and sustainable materials, it’s a lot easier to justify their advantages.


Restaurant flatware has to hold up to more use than household flatware, so it usually costs more. The average person would be shocked to discover what restaurants pay for flatware, which doesn’t include washing it and preparing it for table service. Not only do you have to pay for a dishwasher, you have to hire a person to operate it.

Include the average replacement rate of tableware in your calculations when you’re deciding whether to use reusable or disposable items for your restaurant. Also, take into account how big a problem thievery is because, as any restauranteur with experience will tell you, some customers will take anything that’s not nailed down, and spoons seem to be a favorite.


The hygienic benefits of disposable tableware are one of the most obvious reasons to choose them over reusables. Even though restaurants have to abide by strict requirements for sanitizing dishes and cutlery, hygiene is still a source of concern for many people.

Labor Savings

Saving on labor is more important than ever, with low unemployment rates making it hard to find employees, especially for low-wage positions with high-turnover rates like dishwashers.

Save Water

With disposable utensils, you’ll use much less water. Water is a precious commodity, and reducing energy and water consumption can lead to big savings on your utility bills.


Disposable flatware and dinnerware are always available. Sometimes it can be hard in a busy restaurant to stay on top of the dishes, and when you get slammed, you struggle to do everything as fast as possible. With disposables, it’s one less thing you have to worry about.


There’s an opportunity for branding your disposables that you shouldn’t ignore. You can choose unique items that match the look and feel of your restaurant, and you can even have them printed with a logo or slogan.

Disadvantages of Disposable Tableware

The atmosphere of a restaurant is made up of many small details, including your choice of tableware. While people often choose restaurants for their great menus, the dining experience is a top reason people return to their favorite establishments. Unfortunately, some people think disposable utensils make your restaurant seem less professional, which is why they aren’t be the best fit for every restaurant.

Waste is another big reason why disposable tableware can be less than appealing. To combat the appearance of wastefulness, choose eco-friendly disposables and make it apparent that recycling is important to your restaurant.

Use sustainable products like bamboo, which are renewable and biodegradable, unlike their plastic counterparts. Include a blurb on your menu to inform your guests about the advantages of using bamboo utensils; they are guaranteed to feel better about it.

Eco-Friendly Disposable Terms

If you plan on using disposable flatware and dinnerware, it’s important to understand certain terms when marketing your restaurant brand. Use the following terms on your menu, website, and advertisements to let your customers know you care about the environment.


Reusable materials that can be converted into a new product after use are recyclable, like plastics and aluminum products.


When items come from a sustainable source, like bamboo, that can be replenished naturally, they are considered renewable.


Disposable items that can be broken down into organic matter by composting, like paper, cotton, and bamboo, are considered compostable.


When products can be broken down with microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, they are considered to be biodegradable. Natural products made from materials like bamboo, cornstarch, and recycled paper are biodegradable.


Many products are degradable, but they don’t break down naturally like biodegradable items. Degradable usually refers to an anaerobic or chemical process that takes longer than biodegradation, resulting in smaller pieces of the original product. For example, plastic bags are considered degradable.

Choose What Works for Your Restaurant

The most important thing to recognize when you’re choosing between reusable and disposable tableware for your restaurant is that you have options. Many types of disposables are available, and you can use whatever you feel comfortable with. Choose a biodegradable style of disposable products that matches the atmosphere and theme of your restaurant, and rest assured that you’re doing your part for the environment.

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