Melting cutlery leads to a search for alternatives

630e35ec4870549410a499032ee943a8.jpg Plastic cutlery is a thing of the past. With the huge movements in environmental activism lately, especially among young people, a demand was made for more environmentally friendly cutlery from student members of the Food and Beverage Committee. This year, the Capilano University cafeteria answered that demand this summer by making a shift from the regular, plastic cutlery to a new, compostable, eco-friendly brand.
However, the beginning of September brought more than just falling autumn leaves – it also brought the fall of this new cutlery.
The cutlery, although environmentally friendly, has one crucial problem: it melts under heat. Numerous students will purchase a bowl of soup, grab a spoon, and start sipping away – only to discover that the spoon has melted and become warped in shape.
This new ‘greenware’ is just starting to hit the market, which makes it an incredibly expensive product to implement. Nevertheless, the Capilano Cafeteria got rid of all the plastic cutlery and brought in the new, compostable kind, hoping for an eco-friendly alternative that students could be pleased about. New compost bins were moved into the cafeteria, the amount of plastic waste was lessened, and it seemed as if all was going well.
Matt Bakker, Environmental Issues Coordinator, feels that the cutlery is not at all useful. “If the cutlery doesn’t work, it will only add to more waste,” Bakker said. “If you need six spoons for one bowl of soup, that isn’t environmentally conscious at all – regardless of whether or not the spoons are compostable.” Beyond the annoyance of needing more than one spoon for a bowl of soup, concerns also arose to due with ingesting the small parts of the cutlery that melt into the food.
However, Dan Traviss, Head of Aramark food at Capilano University, calmed these fears at a Food and Beverage Committee meeting. He says that although the cutlery has been melting, there is no potential danger to the food or the students. “The cutlery is all corn-based,” Traviss said, “It certainly does not pose a risk.”
According to Traviss, Aramark is in the process of finding an alternative. They are looking through the options that are currently out there and hoping to find a different type of cutlery. “We are looking for a substitute,” Traviss said, “since the current ones are melting in hot foods.” Bakker feels that the process of finding this solution needs to sped up, saying “we need to find an environmentally sustainable solution as soon as possible.”
Traviss noted that the main problem is that it was incredibly expensive to implement this new cutlery, and trying to find another option will not only result in the cafeteria losing money, but will also be difficult – there aren’t a whole lot of green options out there right now.
A crucial problem with the current cutlery is the fact that when students simply dispose of it in the garbage rather than the compost bins, it will not compost as intended. According to Bakker, in order for things to compost, they have to be exposed to both sunlight and water. “Composting of the cutlery won’t work in the garbage,” Bakker said.

While Aramark is seeking out an option that will be better suited for hot temperatures as well as environmentally friendly, students will have to resort to sipping their soup without a spoon.

//Krissi Bucholtz

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