A personal cutlery set partially made from recycled CDs aims to both reduce single-use plastic and give diners safer options for eating outside of their home.
“The Pebble,” is a portable utensil set featuring a knife, fork, spoon, straw and chopsticks. The colorful kit was designed by Otherware, a collaboration between Pharrell Williams’ creative brand I Am Other and sustainable design company Pentatonic.
Restaurants – shut down by the coronavirus pandemic – have cautiously reopened in some parts of the world, adjusting to new safety measures as diners weigh the risks of eating out again.
“We originally began developing this product around the scenarios of festival dining and eating and drinking on the move – situations which traditionally drive high consumption of single-use utensils,” said Pentatonic co-founder Jamie Hall in an email interview. “The Pebble, allowing users to avoid communal sources of utensils when eating and drinking away from home, has grown in its importance as a product benefit in recent months.”
Single-use plastics pose a major concern for the environment, and account for half of all plastic production, according to the UN. In 2019, the European Parliament approved a law banning 10 single-use plastic items, including straws and cotton buds, by 2021. Some US states, such as California, have explored ways to reduce plastic pollution by banning disposable plastic bags. (Though California’s statewide ban was briefly lifted in April for 60 days, in response to the coronavirus.)
But in the light of the pandemic, some restrictions have eased over fears long the virus can live on certain surfaces.
Plastic waste has ballooned, from the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) worldwide to restaurants using disposable packaging and utensils.
Otherware hopes to provide an alternative solution to the latter. “Our team has been super concerned about the seemingly unstoppable flow of single-use plastics, especially around food and drink,” said project lead Darla Vaughn in a press release. “The Pebble makes it easy for people to take their first step towards eliminating single-use plastics.”
The Pebble is re-recyclable and created from waste materials, including recycled polycarbonate CDs and polypropylene from food packaging.
Using recycled CDs utilizes an area of waste from an earlier generation: According to the brand’s press release, an estimated 10 billion CDs and DVDs have been discontinued in the US over the past 15 years.
Hall believes that consumer businesses need to “design out” waste materials from the start, by “deeply considering a product’s role, material and assembly choices, life cycle realities and the system in which it will circulate.
“The era of designing cool sh*t in a vacuum is over. Everyone, especially the planet, has had enough.”