UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into reusable cutlery solutions Tingley, Chris; Bigelow, David; Allen, Reid; Johnson, Jeff


The University of British Columbia’s Student Union Building (SUB) and cafeteria in particular, is a large hub for student activity and traffic. Thousands of students pass through the SUB each day, generally in a rush. There are many food establishments within the SUB and managing the subsequent waste in a sustainable way is a challenge. With the new, more sustainable SUB building being built, there is a push to make every detail more sustainable. One of the most pressing issues in the current SUB is the amount of waste from disposable cutlery produced from all the food establishments. An excellent alternative is portable, reusable cutlery. This report addresses on three specific cutlery products and assesses them based on triple bottom line assessment. This assessment focuses on the environmental, social, and economic impacts of the products. The specific products feature bamboo cutlery from “To-Go Ware Products”, stainless steel cutlery available from “Lavish and Lime Vancouver”, and recycled polypropylene cutlery from “Preserve Products”. Research methods included locating sustainable products, then assessing their benefits and drawbacks based on contact with suppliers, and research in peer-reviewed journals. Each product has unique benefits and drawbacks. The assessment concluded that stainless steel cutlery was the most well rounded option. Despite the fact that the stainless steel product has the poorest environmental impact in terms of production, it has the longest working life span of the three products. Polypropylene cutlery is the cheapest of the three, but it doesn’t last as long as stainless steel. The bamboo cutlery has good functionality properties and has excellent environmental standards, but it is much too expensive. When accounting for the environmental, social, and economic factors, stainless steel reusable cutlery proves to be the most viable option. 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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