During 2020 the city of Västerås has carried out a plastic diet project. The project has had several focus areas. One such area is certain kitchen utensils that contain hazardous substances.
In order to find out which such kitchen utensils are used within the city functions an inventory of municipal school restaurant has been accomplished.
As a result of the inventory the school restaurants have started a substitution process to exchange items with hazardous substances to better alternatives. Products that are exchanged are at first non-stick frying-pans, spatulas and serving cutlery.
Single use items and plastic film are two other focus areas in the plastic diet. This kind of products are not widely used in school restaurants. Plastic food packaging is a great source of waste because most of the food that is prepared is packaged in plastic packaging. The waste is sent for recycling according to Swedish regulations.
Another focus area in the plastic diet project was to replace plastic kitchen utensils in home and consumer science classrooms. We learned that, when replacing traditional plastic items to more chemically safe alternatives, it is very important to keep a close contact with the users.
Some teachers did not want to replace their plastic cutting boards to wood, as they were afraid it would be harder to keep the cutting boards clean, as wood can’t be washed in the dish washer.
One school experienced that the wood cutting boards cracked after just a few months of use, probably because the glue did not withstand the frequent hand washing. These boards were replaced by cutting boards made from single wood boards, instead of smaller pieces glued together.
Most teachers welcomed the new frying pans, as they already know about the negative impacts from traditional non-stick pans. However, even though the new pans were made of light-weight cast iron, some teachers say these pans were too heavy for the younger children.
Some teachers also complained about the pan design, as the new pans are deeper than their old pans.