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There is one thing that is certain: single-use plastics are bad for the environment. However, when hosting a party, there are few choices other than flimsy paper plates and plastic cups that ultimately wind up at the landfill. So, when I heard about Repurpose and its high-quality compostable cutlery, cups, and plates, I was thrilled. As an avid composter and vermiculture enthusiast, I thought these products were the perfect solution. So, I was happy to try their products in my everyday life.
Repurpose’s products are beautifully packaged. Their packages are brightly colored and provide clear information regarding their differentiators:
- Made from plants
They also have a sense of humor that reinforces their brand’s voice and mission (scroll to the bottom to see some of my favorites).
One thing did catch me off-guard at first: While Repurpose’s products are compostable, they are only commercially compostable (ASTM D6400 and D6868 Certified). This fact was a bit of a ‘party-pooper’ to be honest. As someone that has a home composting system, I would prefer to be able to skip the extra errand of dropping them off at the city’s composting collection site. And what are people that live in more rural areas supposed to do to compost these products?
All Repurpose products are made from plant-based materials. Because I’m always curious which plants and processes go into my eco-friendly products, I decided to look more into this. What did I find out? Repurpose uses many of the same materials as other eco-plastic companies.
- Molded Fiber: waste paper and natural fibers repurposed into a new product
- PLA: Polylactic acid is a thermoplastic monomer derived from renewable, organic sources such as sugar cane
- PBAT: polybutylene adipate terephthalate a material made from synthetic and biobased polymers
Using Repurpose Tableware
I used Repurpose’s tableware over the course of three weeks under different circumstances to get a good feel for how it would perform. I paid attention to the sturdiness of the products, how they handled being used, and the post-use process.
Using Repurpose Plates
I received the 9-inch compostable plates and 10-inch sectional plates. They’re both even white in coloration. They also seemed extremely sturdy upon first inspection.
These plates didn’t sag or droop while holding large amounts of food. The sectioned plate is great for parties where some people may not want their foods to mix.
I did discover two issues:
1. Hot pasta and these plates do not mix well. The naturally damp, steamy, somewhat sticky nature of pasta pulls a layer of ‘paper’ off the plate that sticks to the pasta.
2. Hot foods can push steam and condensation through the bottom of the plate. While this doesn’t cause burns or anything, it could create steam stains on your wood table.
Using Repurpose Cups
Repurpose’s cups are attractive and strong. I didn’t have any issues while using them. They are not flimsy and quite attractive.
Using Repurpose Cutlery
Repurpose spoons and forks an even, opaque, matte off-white. They are not flimsy, but my first spoon did snap. Keep in mind that I’m notoriously heavy-handed, and after using more over time, this one is only a one-time occasion.
Other than the baked potato incident, I found the forks and spoons quite strong and sturdy.
The Post-Use Process
One of my biggest worries with these products is that if they’re used at a party, party-goers would need special instructions for proper disposal. Furthermore, if a meal is grease- or oil-heavy, it could be a bad idea to compost the plate.
And it’s very likely that most kids (and some adults) that use these products wouldn’t follow these instructions. So, how awful is it if they wind up in a landfill? Well, as Repurpose points out, while these products likely will not break down in a landfill, they do come with upstream environmental benefits. The primary upstream pro is that they’re made from renewable plants and not fossil fuels.
I saved my Repurpose products after cleaning off any leftover food bits. This required a designated storage spot in addition to composting collection, shred paper products storage for my worm farm, my recycling, and my regular trash.
Luckily, Nashville has three commercial composting collection sites, and dropping off was easy.
Other Benefits of Repurpose
Remember that non-toxic claim? Well, these products are BPA-free which is reassuring. And these products are much easier on the environment to produce.
Other Things to Consider
Repurpose manufacturers their products in China, Taiwan, and Bulgaria. This is likely because it’s difficult to keep costs down, and their products do cost quite a bit more than single-use plastic versions of the same products.
Repurpose reports that they are working on creating home compostable tableware. This is great news since most people do not want to have to make an extra trip to a composting facility or pay for at-home pickup. They also say they’re looking to move manufacturing to the U.S.
If you’re hosting a party or use disposable tableware often, Repurpose offers an excellent alternative to single-use plastics. Their products are not perfect–but neither are the single-use alternatives. And after this process, I will most definitely purchase these products for a work party or upcoming grill-out and not mind the increase in price. I will also buy a package of their small bin bags and tall kitchen bags next time I’m at Kroger.