UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into sustainable materials for reusable cutlery Chen, Zheng; Ko, Teddy; Wei, Wei


It is important to look at many different aspects when improving sustainability in the world. Cutlery is one main concern for use in the SUB and many buildings across UBC. Plastic cutlery has been used for a long time due to its low economic costs, but it also generates a lot of waste to landfills. The purpose of this report is to find material that is suitable to replace the plastic cutlery. It will focus on 3 reusable materials for replacing plastic cutlery used in UBC. They are bamboo, stainless steel, and plant starch. Each material is covered in-depth from research through several articles and sources. The three materials are compared by using triple-bottom line assessment. It was found that stainless steel is very durable, but it came with a high price. It also damages the local environment due to the waste it generates at the end of its life cycle. Plant starch is reusable and it is quite cheap; however, it is not as durable compared to bamboo and stainless steel. Furthermore, its plastic-like appearance may cause some concerns from consumers who would question the reusability. Over all, bamboo is the most suitable material because it’s environmentally friendly, economically practical, and socially acceptable. Bamboo is a type of grass, so it does not need to be reseeded after its initial planting. Bamboo also produces 40% more oxygen than trees, which reduce the CO₂ in the air. Bamboo cutlery is reusable and completely biodegradable. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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