Disposable paper packaging is a more sustainable option


In the dining delivery scenario, reusable tableware is much less sustainable than paper disposable tableware due to the extra and specific burden. This is due to the amount of energy and fresh water used for cleaning, as well as the rate of breakage associated with recycling transport and take-out processes.
An earlier life cycle assessment (LCA) study by Ramboll, commissioned by the European Paper Packaging Alliance (EPPA), also showed that in a fast food restaurant dining scenario, reusable cutlery systems produce 2.8 times more CO2 emissions and consume 3.4 times more freshwater than paper single-use packaging.
These reports all point to the same conclusion: single-use paper packaging is a more sustainable option.
Disposable paper packaging is more sustainable than reusable cutlery
This conclusion seems to contradict popular belief.
To understand this conclusion, one has to mention Life cycle assessment (LCA).
In simple terms, life cycle assessment considers the environmental impact of a product "from cradle to grave" (i.e. from raw material acquisition, production, consumption, use, and final disposal) at a macro level.
Although from a consumer's point of view, reusable tableware intuitively seems to have less impact on the environment because it can be used multiple times. However, when assessing the environmental impact of a product over its life cycle, the Ramboll report shows that single-use paper packaging has a smaller environmental impact -- because cleaning and drying reused tableware (to meet the standards required to prevent cross-contamination) requires more energy and fresh water.
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