Are paper plates safe to eat off of? 

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Are paper plates safe to eat off of?” as well as provide the dangers associated with using excess paper plates and alternatives to paper plates.

Are paper plates safe to eat off of?

No, paper plates are not safe to eat off of. Paper plates can be used short term but for long-term purposes, it is not recommended.

Why are paper plates so harmful?

  • Paper plate containers might appear to be coated in wax but they are coated in polyethylene plastic. 
  • Many paper containers or plates contain Bisphenol-A or BPA which can affect your health in the long term.
  • Paper plates are also not environmentally friendly. Paper plates are produced by cutting off trees.
  • Certain paper plates are also provided a plastic coating that helps to keep the plates water and oilproof. PFAs were introduced for this purpose. 

PFAs were coated to the paper plates instead of plastic to obtain water and oil-proof properties. PFAs are also proven to be harmful to health.

Let us look over these points in detail.

What is polyethylene plastic?

Polyethylene plastic is used to coat paper plates and in many everyday materials. It is thermoplastic and durable because of which it has been widely used to coat the plates.

Polyethylene is not biodegradable making it non-environment friendly. Polyethylene though is not considered carcinogenic but not all polyethylenes are produced equally. 

To make the plates more durable and long-lasting, chemicals, fillers, and additives are added to the plastic component. Polyethylene can also leach onto foods as well.

What is Bisphenol A or BPA?

Bisphenol A is a chemical that is usually used in plastic products and resins. Paper plates that are lined with plastic often have a risk of containing BPA.

BPA can leach onto foods that you consume because of which can affect your health.

The effects of BPA on health are as follows:

  • Mimics estrogen receptors can influence energy, reproduction, growth, and fetal development.
  • Promotes infertility in both men and women
  • Affects the birth weight and behavior of infants
  • Increases the risks of developing obesity
  • Linked to risks of developing heart disease or diabetes
  • Increases risk of developing PCOS
  • Impairs immune and nervous system functioning
  • Promotes premature delivery of babies

Why are paper plates not environmentally friendly?

When disposed off in landfills, paper tends to take up more space than plastic. Plastic materials can be usually used for recycling but paper plates are usually not suitable for recycling.

Paper plates also contain food residues which can make them further unsuitable for recycling.

The pulp used for producing paper is obtained by cutting down on trees. Chlorine used for producing paper products is termed to be carcinogenic as well.

What are PFAs?

The full-form of PFA is Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These substances were also termed as PFCs or called fluorocarbons (FCs). 

PFAs when used in small amounts are not particularly harmful. The EPA has set a limit of 70 ppt. Excess exposure to PFA can affect vital functions of the body.

The health problems associated with excess exposure to PFAs are as follows:

  • PFAs in excess amounts are carcinogenic.
  • It increases bad cholesterol levels.
  • It affects women’s fertility and causes reproductive issues.
  • It affects the growth and development of children.
  • It influences the immune system.
  • It influences hormonal activity.

Over time, PFAs can accumulate in your body and increase the risk of developing health issues.

Which disposable plates can be used?

  • Disposable bamboo plates can be used as an alternative. Bamboos are cut down to make these plates but bamboos grow faster. It is also better to durable and strong.
  • Palm leaf plates are compostable, elegant, and hand-made. It is prepared from the Areca palm tree. It is also freezer and microwave safe. They are not lined with plastic or wax. 
  • Bagasse plates are prepared from the fiber obtained from making sugarcane juice. It is durable than paper plates and can be microwaved up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Should paper plates not be used?

You can use paper plates once in a while but remember to not use them long-term. If you plan on using paper plates, opt for the ones that are plain white and not printed. Avoid using paper plates that are lined with plastic, dyed, or bleached.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Are paper plates safe to eat off of?” as well as provided the dangers associated with using excess paper plates and alternatives to paper plates.


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