Frequently Asked Questions
Do Aspenware utensils smell and taste like wood?
Aspen, poplar and birch don't have much of a wood smell or much of a taste. It's actually why these species are used to make wooden mixing spoons - like the ones found in most kitchens. Aspenware is engineered to eliminate any residual wood taste; each piece is individually finished to be smooth to the touch.
Is Aspenware cutlery reusable?
Sometimes, but it depends on usage. Aspenware can be lightly cleaned and reused a few times; however it is intended to be single-use and will not survive a trip through the dishwasher or being soaked for long periods of time. Aspenware is made to be strong, but it is also made to be thrown away.
How can wood make such strong utensils?
Aspenware is made using its own patented lamination and forming process. There are also a number of carefully balanced factors that combine to make each piece robust yet rapidly compostable.
What is the difference between compostable and biodegradable?
Biodegradable products degrade due to the natural action of microbes and exposure to the elements. The key things to understand about materials labelled biodegradable is that they do not require breakdown of the material on any particular timescale, nor does it require that the resulting degraded products be environmentally benign. For example, all plastic will biodegrade eventually, but it could take 10,000 years and leave toxic trace chemicals in the soil. Compostable products must biodegrade as above, but have the added requirement that the biodegradation occur on reasonable timescales and that the end products be environmentally benign. For example, an Aspenware fork will biodegrade in 49 days or less, and produce useful and nutrient rich soil that can then be used to support new growth.
Does Aspenware log trees?
No way. We use logs from trees that were previously cut down by the softwood lumber industry while trying to reach more valuable species, such as spruce, pine and fir. The species used to make Aspenware would normally be left to rot or burned in slash piles. Instead, we salvage them and give them a more useful purpose. All the wood we use is sourced from local sustainable forestry partners.
Does Aspenware create waste wood?
Yes, like any manufacturing process, we produce some waste wood when making Aspenware. Through years of development, we have substantially reduced the amount of waste produced. The small amount that is generated is sent to be made into wood pellets or is used as feedstock for biomass power generation.
What's the best way to dispose of Aspenware utensils?
Aspenware can be thrown into the green-bin (municipal compost), a home composter, or even the regular garbage. Since we only use natural ingredients, every part of Aspenware turns back into the soil from whence it came.
How fast do Aspenware utensils decompose?
Under commercial compost conditions, Aspenware completely decomposes in fewer than 49 days. Under home compost conditions, results will vary based on moisture, temperature and owner maintenance, but decomposition times should not exceed 90 days.
What about bioplastic?
To be certified a "compostable bioplastic," the material must degrade by 60% in 180 days in a commercial compost facility - a standard that has been set by the bioplastics industry. Last time we checked, 60% was not 100%, and 180 days was a long time. Bioplastics are also often laced with conventional, non-compostable plastic resins to increase their strength and performance. It sort of defeats the purpose of calling yourself 'bioplastic,' in our opinion. But what do we know? We make all-natural, compostable utensils.
But there are other types of wooden disposable utensils; what makes Aspenware better?
There are really only a few other types of disposable wooden utensils. Most companies advertising wooden cutlery are importing the exact same product from the same overseas suppliers under various trade names. If you have tried these products you will know that they are of very poor quality and taste like a tongue depressor. While we believe that the other wooden cutlery might have similar compostability characteristics as Aspenware, none of them perform like it. Nor do they offer the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing that you're holding utensils made using domestically regulated health and sustainability practices, local resource utilization and labour.
Doesn't Aspenware cost more than plastic cutlery?
Aspenware is competitively priced with the high-quality plastic and bioplastic cutlery. Sure, there are less expensive non-renewable alternatives out there, but we could argue that the overall cost is larger than what you would pay for them.
Other than wood, what else is used in making Aspenware utensils?
Aspenware is made up of two layers of wood veneer held together with an FDA-approved edible binding agent. Each piece of Aspenware is also coated with a plant-based food coating. That's it - wood, edible binder and natural coating - no nasty chemicals.