An environmentally conscious injection molder and a long-standing name in plastics recycling are joining forces to help keep disposable cutlery from, well, being disposed.
UrthPact LLC of Leominster, Mass., and Preserve of Waltham, Mass., are launching what they call a new line of environmentally friendly single-use cutlery for use at in-store cafes at a major, but unnamed organic grocery store chain.
A pilot project, designed to test the effectiveness of the cutlery's dispensers, will include six stores in the Northeast. A full roll-out of the program, not dependent on the pilot, is set for some 400 locations on March 1.
Paul Nickerson, vice president of sales and marketing at UrthPact, indicated the retailer “will be a recognizable name.”
Preserve has, for years now, operated the Gimme 5 program aimed at recapturing used polypropylene that's then used to make products such as toothbrushes and razor handles.
In this new program, UrthPath will manufacture cutlery — forks, knives, teaspoons and soup spoons — from recycled polypropylene for use in the cafes. Customers will then be able to deposit the Preserve branded and distributed cutlery into on-site collection containers. Preserve will then see that the used cutlery is recycled again into new products.
“The first step of Preserve's cutlery is to be a better piece of cutlery, even if it goes into the landfill. Our cutlery is made from 100-percent recycled material. It's made in the United States of America and it's made from polypropylene. And that right there is checking three boxes that a lot of cutlery doesn't currently check. And then we can add on a recycling component to that. Fabulous,” said Eric Hudson, founder and CEO of Preserve.
“What we're seeking to do is replace what might be a styrene fork from Asia with made-in-the-USA recycled polypropylene great new design Preserve cutlery,” Hudson said.
Preserve and UrthPact are actually headquartered not far from each other in Massachusetts.
“As a result of our two companies' missions, also being fairly close in proximity to each other, found each other and realized that we really are on the same mission to somehow influence and help create a zero waste economy or at least reduce the environmental impact of plastics out there,” Nickerson said. “As a result, that whole project related to cutlery is taking shape.”
While being launched at the organic grocery store chain, Nickerson said the cutlery also will ultimately become available elsewhere. “This is going to roll out to other retailers, other cafes, other food service customers,” he said.
While the two companies are starting with cutlery that is made from 100-percent recycled PP, they also are working to develop a new line of compostable plastic cutlery, Nickerson said.
“Both of those are going to be really nice coups in trying to reduce the waste and the issues that people have, that we all have, in seeing resources consumed,” Hudson said.
The Preserve CEO sees potential across the country for the new line of cutlery in retail, corporate, sporting, education and even vacation settings, for example. “Anywhere that there is somebody getting a salad or cheeseburger across the United States of America,” he said.