The 10 Best Eco-Friendly Dinnerware Brands: Biodegradable & Recyclable

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Written by The LeafScore Team

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The LeafScore Team

This article was written as a collaboration by the LeafScore editorial team.

Updated:

Some unscrupulous dinnerware brands have tried to confuse consumers by labelling plates and bowls as “degradable,” which doesn’t mean anything. We cut through the greenwashing to highlight biodegradable dinnerware brands which are fully compostable and contain no petroleum plastics.

Table of Contents
  1. Greenwashing is rampant in the dinnerware industry
  2. Truly plant-based dinnerware
  3. Our top picks
  4. The Bottom Line

So, you’re in the market for sustainably made plates, bowls, and glasses. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast.

If you Google the term “eco-friendly dinnerware,” you’re going to find upwards of 7 million results. Search Amazon, and you’ll find a choice of about 1,200 wheat straw- and bamboo-based dinnerware products.

Those natural materials sound really good, and the companies do their best to convince you that a purchase from them means you’re doing your part for the planet. Is that true though? Not always.

Greenwashing is rampant in the dinnerware industry

The problem is that many of these sellers are “greenwashing” consumers, or making well-meaning people think what they’re buying is eco-friendly when it is not. Buried in fine print somewhere on the wheat straw dinnerware product pages, for example, you’ll likely find that these products are made not only of plant fibers, but also of melamine.

What is melamine?

Melamine is a type of plastic used in traditional low-cost dinnerware. Melamine is considered food-safe, as are many other plastics, despite ongoing concerns over cumulative exposure.

Melamine is not safe for use in the microwave though, and like all petroleum-based plastics, it is not compostable or even biodegradable. 

Unlike most ‘best eco-friendly plates’ lists, none of our recommendations include melamine. Why? Because Leaf Score is not in the business of supporting greenwashing.

When plastic is mixed in with wheat straw, bamboo, or other natural fillers, the resulting products are less durable than regular plastic products, so they’ll have a shorter lifespan. Worse, you can’t recycle them since they’re an amalgamation of plastic and plant fibers, and you can’t compost them for the same reason. All you can do is trash them.     

Looking for kid’s plates and cups? Be sure to check out Leigh’s piece on non-toxic dinnerware for young kids.

Truly plant-based dinnerware

There are truly eco-friendly dinnerware products, made solely of plant materials like:

  • Bamboo
  • Corn
  • Bioplastics.

These sustainable dinnerware options are family-friendly and generally made to last for years. However, because they are naturally biodegradable, they won’t last a lifetime. 

Don’t worry, though. If you’re looking for long-lasting earth-conscious dinnerware appropriate for a wedding registry, entertaining, or everyday use, I have specific recommendations for you as well.   

stoneware vs. earthenware vs. porcelain

The language around dinnerware can be confusing. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Porcelain – bone china or fine china made of fine clay and sand (and sometimes bone char, making some porcelain not vegan)
  • Stoneware – made of clay, sand, and stone
  • Earthenware – made mostly of clay, with no outer glaze. 

Porcelain is typically lighter and thinner than stoneware and earthenware. It is also more prone to chipping and breakage, although that depends on the manufacturing process and composition. Some high-heat fired porcelain may actually be quite resilient.

Earthenware can be nice for decorative purposes and dry foods but is porous without a glaze, meaning it’s not usually meant for soups, stews, or other wetter foods.

Our top picks

I give preference to companies who create non-toxic, earth-friendly, and socially responsible dinnerware, because ideally, the people who make our dishes are able to put food on the table for their own families as well. 

Here are my picks for the best eco-friendly and sustainable dinnerware options.

1Staff Tested

Fable dinnerware

Highlights: High-quality, beautiful stoneware dishware made in a zero-waste facility using solar power by a carbon neutral B Corp!

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What we like

  • Gorgeous dinnerware in a wide variety of natural colors
  • Robust, high-quality, and largely scratch resistant
  • Produced in a 100% zero-waste facility
  • Non-toxic ceramic dinnerware
  • Carbon neutral certified B Corp
  • Dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe up to 450ºF

What could be better

  • Heavy
  • Made in Europe
  • A little pricy

Fable commits to ethical labor practices (all facilities are SMEA certified) and practices sustainable sourcing and manufacturing. Fable even publishes an annual sustainability report, which puts the company leagues ahead of its dinnerware competitors in terms of sustainability and transparency!

Fable’s ceramics are made in a zero-waste factory in Portugal using a blend of recycled and locally sourced clay. Fable:

  • Recovers 100% of water and treats it for re-use
  • Incorporates 100% of clay shavings and biscuits back into products
  • Recycles 100% of broken glazed ceramics into concrete
  • Uses 100% solar power during the day.

Fable uses eco-friendly packaging that is 100% recyclable and plastic-free. Even the print is petroleum-free and the paper wrap is FSC certified. To protect the tableware, Fable uses sustainable bio-film made from potato starch and maize starch. You can compost this at home and it is 100% biodegradable. Fable only uses packing peanuts made from starch. These break down in the sink with just water! So, along with your new dishes, you get a fun science experiment for your kids.

Our experience with Fable tableware

Leigh’s mother-in-law replaced all her dinnerware recently and went with a full set from Fable, plus some limited edition bowls. These dishes are beautiful and immediately sparked envy!

Leigh really loves how the understated aesthetic helps to showcase good food. It’s also really nice how easily the dishes clean up and that they’re dishwasher friendly. After much use, the plates and bowls show little sign of scratching and despite some bumps and regular dishwasher cleaning, there are no chips or fissures.

While Leigh thinks the dinner plates are a good size, her MIL thinks they’re too large. The bowls are perfect for soup or salad. And the side plates also easily fit your morning toast or a good size dessert. The smaller plates are really just for small snacks or desserts though and won’t fit a piece of toast.

Photos courtesy of Leigh’s MIL! Thanks Gill!

(perhaps too large) dinner plate, breakfast plate (works great for meals large or small), and side plate (a touch too small for a piece of toast)
Dessert bowls – great size for small servings of puddings or fruit salad
Limited edition black bowls – these make food look fantastic and Leigh’s MIL wishes she’d bought more tableware in the black color.

The Fable dinnerware bundles includes four each of the:

  • Dinner Plates
  • Salad Plates
  • Pasta Bowls
  • Breakfast Bowls.

You might also want to check out Fable glassware and flatware. The glassware is made with 50% in-house recycled broken or waste glass and is 100% lead-safe. The company also has a plan in place to reduce associated CO2 emissions by 35% by 2030.

Pasta bowl – a favorite for soups, stews, and pasta
2

Public Goods Dinnerware

Highlights: Super affordable, minimalist dinnerware that easily matches for a custom place setting. Made by a more sustainable company. Eco-friendly packaging and carbon neutral shipping.

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What we like

  • Very affordable
  • High-fire porcelain (more robust and durable)
  • Lead-free and plastic-free – Prop 65 compliant
  • Microwave and freezer safe (no thermal shocks, though)
  • Oven-safe to 350°F and dishwasher-safe
  • Minimalist, elegant aesthetic (easy to match)
  • Plants a tree for every order
  • Carbon neutral shipping in sustainable packaging
  • Made in a more eco-friendly factory

What could be better

  • Only available in white
  • No discount dinnerware bundles (but freedom to mix and match!)

Public Good is a fabulous company for refillable toiletries and other household wares, including dinnerware!

This brand thrives on simplicity, as reflected in its minimalist, all-white dinner plates, bowls, and drinkware. These unfussy dishes are made with robust and durable high-fire porcelain, meaning they could easily outlast more fragile stoneware.

Public Good makes its porcelain in an eco-friendly factory using co-generation heating technology. This process captures heat from the kiln to help dry new clay and to run the air conditioners.

Public Good also offers cooking utensils made with acacia wood and silicone. All of its cleaning and toiletry products are vegan and incorporate organic, clean ingredients, instead of conventional hazardous chemicals. This caring company also partners with food banks and Clean the World to collect and redistribute partially used shampoo, deodorant and other hygiene and care products.

Your Public Good dinnerware ships carbon neutral in sustainable, compostable packaging. The company recently replaced all styrofoam and bubblewrap with sustainable alternatives.

3

East Fork Dinnerware

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What we like

  • Made in the US, using locally sourced raw materials
  • Lead-free and non-toxic
  • Fantastic color choices
  • Dishwasher and microwave safe
  • B Corporation that is climate neutral certified
  • Kids stoneware meal set also available (view on East Fork)
  • Sustainably packaged and shipped

What could be better

  • A little pricy
  • Some items periodically out of stock

East Fork is a fabulous American B Corporation making tableware on home soil, using locally sourced clay. Every piece is handmade in Asheville, North Carolina using materials from the local area. That means much lower carbon emissions and much higher labor standards, paying all employees a living wage at least.

East Fork started out around a decade ago with a hand-built kiln and twice-yearly sales. From there, the brand has expanded greatly, but maintains its original intention to be a sustainable, caring pottery company. These days, East Fork also makes kitchen tools, candles, and textiles, all non-toxic and sustainably sourced. There are even brass kid sporks and recycled glassware to fully kit out your eco-friendly table.

The glassware is mostly made by a local glass blower using borosilicate glass, which is more resistant to thermal shock. Some glassware is made in Italy, however, so check individual listings if you only want to buy locally made.

Powered by clean energy

East Fork is Climate Neutral certified and has a robust environmental plan which includes using green energy for 100% of its operations. That’s thanks to the green utility provider North Carolina Green Power (which the company also works with to help install solar panels on public schools).

East Fork offers bargain finds at 40% off from its Seconds collections. Here, you’ll find perfectly usable and beautiful dinnerware that just didn’t quite make the strict East Fork quality standards.

The East Fork 7-Piece You’re-All-Set set includes one each of the following for around $240, which saves you around 15% compared to buying each piece individually:

  • Mug
  • Bitty Bowl
  • Breakfast Bowl
  • Everyday Bowl
  • Cake Plate
  • Side Plate
  • Dinner Plate.

The dinner plate is a tiny bit smaller than Fable’s at 10.5-inches across.

There are six core color options and two seasonal colors available for this set. Other bowls, plates, and mugs are available in a variety of colorways, and other sets (such as nesting bowls) can also help you save money versus buying each item separately.

4Staff Tested

Bambu Compostable Dinnerware

Highlights: A top pick for eco-friendly entertaining, this company has been making attractive, disposable, and compostable dinnerware from abundant, fast-growing bamboo for nearly two decades.

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What we like

  • Home compostable dinnerware
  • Many options and sample box available
  • Bamboo utensils, napkins, and straws available too
  • Certified carbon neutral company since 2020
  • 1% for the Planet member
  • Made by a longstanding B corp

What could be better

  • Single-use (some Bambu products are reusable)

Bambu products are my go-to choice for casual, large dinner parties without the guilt of single-use plastics. 

This Certified B-Corporation and 1% For The Planet member business was the first to use certified organic bamboo in the making of its compostable single-use dinnerware. This means the crops are grown while promoting ecological balance, conserving biodiversity and abstaining from genetic modification and pesticide use.

The couple behind Bambu live and work in China alongside their production team to ensure the continued high quality of Bambu’s sustainable single-use dinnerware. 

Bambu products include:

  • Plates in circular, square or “fancy” floral shapes
  • Cutlery sets
  • Cloth-like bamboo napkins
  • Reusable serving trays and utensils
  • Single-use and reusable bamboo straws.

All products retain the bamboo plant’s natural hue for a unique, attractive and modern look that will likely spur curious conversation around the dinner table. 

Bambu dinnerware will biodegrade in a home compost in about 4-6 months.   

5

Ahimsa Stainless Steel Mindful Mealtime Set

Highlights: Stainless steel kids’ dinnerware set. Attractive, durable, non-toxic, and eco-friendly alternative to popular plastic sets.

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What we like

  • Sturdy and durable (even when thrown by toddlers)
  • MadeSafe certified non-toxic
  • Created by a pediatrician and mom
  • Compartments are sized for age-appropriate nutrition
  • Dishwasher-safe and easy to clean
  • Plastic-free and doesn’t change taste of food
  • Charitable company

What could be better

  • Not microwave safe
  • Loud when dropped!

It’s mind-boggling to think about how many meals, snacks and drinks children consume from potentially toxic plastic plates, containers and cups. Skip the plastic with this durable, non-toxic, recyclable stainless steel dinnerware set from Ahimsa. The perfect solution for families suffering from plastic overload. 

Why Ahimsa? While there are loads of stainless steel dinnerware sets available, Ahimsa’s is especially well designed, probably at least in part because it was created by a pediatrician and mom. The serving compartments are portioned according to a child’s age-based dietary needs and the products are both shatterproof and dishwasher-safe.

(As you may have guessed, you can’t use this metal dish in the microwave.)

The sets come either in a traditional stainless steel finish or with a fun iridescent-blue or rainbow coating. 

Great cup design!

Ahimsa dinnerware sets for kids include a stainless steel cup with a weighted bottom. This is a super smart way to minimize spills!

In addition to creating non-toxic, sustainable kids’ dinnerware, Ahimsa contributes 1% of profits to The Patachou Foundation, which provides healthy food and nutrition lessons for kids in need.    

6Staff Tested

Zungleboo Nari Dinner Plates

Highlights: Family-friendly, dishwasher and microwave-safe plates made purely from plants.

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What we like

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Earthy texture
  • Look good, and come in fun colors

What could be better

  • Can dent in the heat of the dishwasher if not lined up on the rack perfectly
  • Often unavailable (grab them when you can!)

Zungleboo co-founder and mother Kay Park created this line of lightweight, plant-based, compostable dinnerware as a solution for tired, sustainability-focused parents like herself. 

The collection was developed as an alternative to the plastic-swamped kid dinnerware market. The plates are created to be:

  • Lightweight and easy on the elbows
  • Tough enough to endure:
    • Microwave reheating (up to two minutes)
    • Dishwasher cycles (up to 160℉)
    • Spills and thrills of early family life.

Thanks to the clean lines, tasteful neutral tones, and relatively large size of the plates (up to 11-inch in diameter), it’s safe to say this eco-friendly tableware brand is also a fit for households without children. 

Sustainability at Zungleboo

By crafting its products from fast-growing crops like bamboo and corn, Zungleboo maintains a significantly smaller carbon footprint than plasticware manufacturers.

The company calculates that its bioplastics manufacturing results in 80% less greenhouse gas emissions than plastic plate-producing counterparts, and uses less than half the non-renewable energy.

Because the eco-friendly plates and bowls are petroleum plastic-free, Zungleboo dinnerware is completely biodegradable and compostable at the end of its life. 

we tested zungleboo dinnerware

With a small baby at home who loves to “gravity test” anything we put on the tray of her highchair, Zungleboo dinnerware is just what the doctor ordered. Of course, we love that it’s non-toxic, but the products are also durable, having withstood many gravity tests on to hardwood flooring.

Zungleboo sustainable dinnerware.
Zungleboo sustainable dinnerware.
7

VivaTerra Recycled Glass Dinnerware

Highlights: Striking, wedding registry-worthy dinnerware collection made from 100% recycled glass. Comes from a company dedicated to environmental and social responsibility.

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Viva Terra is a home goods company that checks all the social and environmental responsibility boxes, offering an array of fair trade, domestically made, recycled, reclaimed, natural, and sustainably sourced products. The Recycled Glass Dinnerware Collection is among its most unique, visually appealing, and sustainable tableware offerings. 

The modern plates and bowls are handmade in Spain. The 18-piece set includes:

  • 6 dinner plates
  • 6 side plates
  • 6 bowls.

You can also buy a set of each separately.

Originally available in blue, green, and sand, most are now only available in green and sand.

8

Convivial Dinnerware

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What we like

  • Attractive stoneware made with natural materials
  • Third-party tested free of lead and cadmium
  • Microwave safe and dishwasher safe
  • Made by hand in Kansas City!

What could be better

  • Expensive (only 4 pieces for c$200)
  • No additional sustainability initiatives at Convivial
  • Not tested for oven safety
  • Dinnerplate is a little small at 9-inches

Convivial’s Minimal Stoneware Dinnerware Set has an earthy, timeless aesthetic that lets your food shine. The four-piece set is more expensive than most on this list but is made by hand in the US (in Kansas City!). The sand stoneware set has an ivory color glaze and includes one each of the following:

  • Salad Plate
  • Dinner Plate
  • Mug
  • Bowl.

Convivial also offers matching pasta bowls, serving dishes, mini bowls, and more. Check out the full collection at Made Trade.

9

Costa Nova Portugal’s Plano Collection

Highlights: Costa Nova Portugal uses clay waste from its own factory to create elegant and sustainable dinnerware products. 

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What we like

  • Stoneware made with 90% recycled materials
  • Company uses energy efficient kiln process
  • Made with solar power and recirculated heat

What could be better

  • Ships from Portugal
  • Inconsistent availability

Rather than discard factory waste, Costa Nova Portugal recycles surplus clay and glazes to create its recycled stoneware products. This practice results in:

  • Less extraction of natural raw materials
  • Increased energy efficiency
  • Less landfill waste. 

Costa Nova has also developed a single-fire kiln process (most companies use two or even three) that conserves energy and reduces carbon emissions. In addition, the sustainable dinnerware company states on its website that it uses solar energy and reuses heat from its kilns to power other factory machinery. 

Last but not least, its products are swoon-worthy. Striking modern pieces in high contrast hues comprise both of Costa Nova’s most sustainable collections: Plano and Lagoa Eco Gres. Each plate, bowl, teacup, and vase in these lines is composed of 90% recycled materials.

Stoneware and other ceramics can last a lifetime if well cared for and can be recycled in some dedicated ceramics recycling facilities.

10

Our Place Dinner for 4 Bundle

Highlights: Affordable, unique, hand-painted ceramic and glass tableware made with recycled materials and natural pigments. A great choice for everyday use.

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What we like

  • Made with sustainable materials
  • Smart stacking design where plates act as lids for bowls
  • Made under fair labor practices
  • Great color options
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Microwave and oven safe up to 350°F
  • Fridge and freezer, safe (avoid extreme temperature changes)
  • Fully recyclable and sustainable packaging

What could be better

  • Heavy
  • Not made in North America
  • Can chip, scratch, and shatter if knocked or dropped
  • Company is not transparent about materials

Our Place offers a line of chic, responsibly-produced tableware, knives, and PFAS-free cookware. The brand’s conscious business practices include using a high percentage of recycled glass and ceramics in its eco-friendly dinnerware, as well as providing fair pay and supportive work environments for the people who produce its products. The company is also involved in a program aimed at improving access to healthy food for residents of its home city, Los Angeles.  

Our Place’s Dinner for 4 Bundle offers great value on a sustainable dinnerware set. There are other bundles available too, including ones with an Always Pan (see our review) and other cookware. You can also customize your dinnerware set to match just about any kitchen, thanks to the array of color options available for each piece. 

Our Place delivers fast and sustainably packages its tableware in attractive cardboard boxes that are smartly designed to interlock and avoid the need for tape.

At end of use, donate your ceramic products to a thrift store or non-profit, or look for a local ceramics recycling facility.

The Bottom Line

When shopping for eco-friendly dinnerware made from natural materials, look out for descriptions that include mysterious terms like “PP,” “poly,” “polypropylene” or “melamine,” as these are all code words for plastic. Some sneaky companies even use the term “degradable” in their product descriptions, which is supposed to sound like “biodegradable,” but doesn’t actually mean anything. 

Products that bear the Biodegradable Products Institute logo or a foreign equivalent must be fully compostable and therefore contain no petroleum plastics.

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