elephantjournal.com Review: Verterra Disposable Dinnerware.

Via Elise Ertel
on Oct 26, 2009
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“If you are willing to spend the extra cash for some swanky disposable plates, Verterra comes with my highest recommendation—but is certainly not a necessity to your existing dinnerware set.”

Landing somewhere between [GMO] corn-polymer biodegradables and dishwasher-safe ceramic, the Verterra was a stylish departure from my everyday dinnerware.

However, the chic appearance and attractive texture did not outweigh the presence of its underlying flaws.


My Verterra multipack came wrapped in minimalist packaging, including a small amount of recyclable (how?) plastic wrap and a business card describing the dinnerware set. Having heard of Verterra before sampling the set, I was impressed at the durability of the plates, particularly when I read that the Verterra line is made from palm leaves. Fallen palm leaves, for that matter. Oh, so eco!

On the bottom of each piece is a subtly imprinted Verterra logo, which I found to be incredibly sexy as an understated symbol of the eco ethos of the company.

Via the Verterra website, I found the backstory of the company (which is often interesting for firms specializing in environmentally-sensetive products):

VerTerra was born from the most simple and unexpected encounter.

As his car bumped its way down a dirt road in rural India, Michael Dwork saw a woman soaking leaves in water, then pressing them in a crude waffle iron. She pulled out what looked like a plate and served food on it.

Though he can’t remember what he ate, that simple organic plate started Michael on a journey to refine what he saw that day into a stylish, durable and truly environmentally-friendly line of single-use dinnerware.


And here is the process for creating the dinnerware, also impressive:

We start by collecting fallen leaves from plantations—no trees are ever cut down to make our dinnerware. The leaves are then brought to our factory, where they are sprayed with high-pressure water, steamed and UV sterilized. Over 80% of the water used is recaptured and reused, and the entire manufacturing process uses just 10% of the energy used in recycling.

Our plates are 100% free of chemicals, lacquers, glues, bonding agents or anything toxic. That keeps your meal and our earth free from harm.

Hearing that the Verterra line was adverse to moisture, I ran a little experiment. To test the one-use theory, I soaked a plate in water as if I were washing off the remnants of a tasty meal. Then, I let it sit for a few minutes to absorb some moisture and blotted the remaining water from the surface. Another big surprise! No warping, bending or buckling. The plate stayed intact, ready for another use. Of course, if the plate were left in water overnight…

Personally, I like using the Verterra products as a catch-all on my desk or coffee table. They are inexpensive (as compared to an rockin’ vintage bowl) to replace so I do not mind if my kitty bats the palm-leaf plate off my desk to activate the clinking sound in my house keys.

Not-So Goodness:

I understand that there is always a trade-off in assessing eco-sensitivity. Either, I can hand wash my existing dinnerware using my Greenworks soap (lots of water-usage)


I can order Verterra with a side of fossil fuels for delivery and whatever energy they use to create their product (which is minimal). If you are willing to spend the extra cash for some swanky disposable plates, Verterra comes with my highest recommendation—but is certainly not a necessity to your existing dinnerware set.

For more information on Verterra or for ordering, please visit their website.

This product review was made using a free sample multi-pack dinnerware set from Verterra.


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About Elise Ertel


9 Responses to “elephantjournal.com Review: Verterra Disposable Dinnerware.”

  1. Many modest restaurants in South India use banana leaves. Ultimately sustainable.

  2. Paul Smith says:

    Yes, and this is where Verterra took its inspiration, particularly street vendors. They then refined the look and worked on using steam and chilling to temper them, making them strong and able to take any number of types of food, without wilting.

  3. via Facebook, Rick G:
    according to their website, the larger plates run about $1 each, and you have to buy minimum volumes–a larger plate order is something like 100 bucks. ouch. good for trust fund eco-types, but this doesn't seem to be an option for people with an actual party budget! they look really cool, however.

    My response: Well, $1 a plate sounds like a lot if you throw 'em away right away…but these last. So they're priced between perma plates and paper plates, and they're totally biodegradable, and hardly processed, low manufacturing impact!

  4. Rick Gilbert says:

    good options, both–there's even a store listed that's about an hour away, which for where I live is pretty damn close! thanks.

  5. Paul Smith says:

    Oh brilliant, glad to help. Check back here if you get them, I'd be interested to hear your experience.

  6. AlizaEss says:

    Loved hearing about this product and how it was discovered. I agree, the amount of plates per package is a lot for daily use, but this is a wonderful idea for celebrations. Friends of mine were just married last weekend and I really wish I had know about this product! I will definitely keep it in mind for large parties in the future.

  7. Paul Smith says:

    @Eliza, glad to fill in the blanks for you. Just wanted to be sure you knew, you can get them in as little as 8 per package (rather than 100s direct from Verterra) Here's one example http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&rs=3760901&am… , and more can be found on their Store Locator button on the top of their site, http://www.verterra.com

  8. Paul Smith says:

    Gladly. I recently learned they're in about half of Whole Foods stores. They started in the east, and are moving westward.

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