Besides reducing the odds for cross-contamination, single-use dispensing allows business owners to reduce product spending. When plastic utensils are thrown into a large bin, people often take more than what they require, creating a cycle of waste. Not so with the new cutlery dispensers, says Attman.

“There have been studies that have found a 29 percent reduction in the usage of cutlery with dispensers compared to open bins,” he says.

The restricted dispensing mechanism makes people think twice about what they need, says Jason Tillis, president of Imperial Bag & Paper, in Bayonne, N.J.

“When cutlery is stored in bins, people just grab,” he adds.

In addition to reducing waste, the cutlery dispensers eliminate the need for individually wrapped flatware. According to one manufacturer study, a single package of unwrapped flatware saves up to two pounds of plastic.

“They reduce packaging costs,” says Laura Craven, director of communications at Dade Paper, Miami. “They are more efficient because the [cutlery] comes in a carton.”

That packaging may also save on labor costs, say distributors. The aforementioned study shows a 50 percent reduction in labor time because end users simply drop in a pre-counted and pre-packaged carton into the dispensing chamber. A viewing window on some units also serves to alert employees about the dwindling stock — well before it has run out, a huge disadvantage during the lunch rush.

“The dispensers are easy to refill,” says Keith Schneringer, marketing manager for Waxie Sanitary Supply, San Diego. “You just snap in the replacement and you don’t have to spend as much time on replacing cutlery.”

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