Compostable cutlery and waste management: an LCA approach.

Research paper by Francesco F Razza, Maurizio M Fieschi, Francesco Degli FD Innocenti, Catia C Bastioli

Indexed on: 28 Oct '08Published on: 28 Oct '08Published in: Waste Management


The use of disposable cutlery in fast food restaurants and canteens in the current management scenario generates mixed heterogeneous waste (containing food waste and non-compostable plastic cutlery). The waste is not recyclable and is disposed of in landfills or incinerated with or without energy recovery. Using biodegradable and compostable (B&C) plastic cutlery, an alternative management scenario is possible. The resulting mixed homogeneous waste (containing food waste and compostable plastic cutlery) can be recycled through organic recovery, i.e., composting. This LCA study, whose functional unit is "serving 1000 meals", shows that remarkable improvements can be obtained by shifting from the current scenario to the alternative scenario (based on B&C cutlery and final organic recovery of the total waste). The non-renewable energy consumption changes from 1490 to 128MJ (an overall 10-fold energy savings) and the CO(2) equivalents emission changes from 64 to 22 CO(2) eq. (an overall 3-fold GHG savings).