Is there one word (or phrase) to describe all forms of disposable cutlery etc, such as paper cups, paper napkins, paper/plastic spoons and forks, plates, etc. ?

I thought of disposable cutlery itself, and apart from that the common synonyms such as tableware, but is there one word that describes this specifically, preferably without using the word disposable at all?


I appreciate the answers I have got till now, but many of the solutions are of the form disposable < synonym of cutlery >. While that is fine, if possible, I would prefer to have a word or phrase not containing the word disposable. The idea is to remove the negative connotation that might arise with the word disposable. Thank you.

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    Disposable Cutlery & Plastic Silverware
    – NVZ
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 13:22
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    @edwin I don't quite understand why there are too many "etc." in there.
    – NVZ
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 13:50
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    Side remark: you seem to be using “cutlery” to include cups, napkins, etc. In my (mostly UK) experience this is nonstandard — cutlery covers knives, forks, spoons, and similar eating utensils, but not plates, cups, or napkins. (And I understand “silverware” and “flatware” in US usage to cover the same range of items.)
    – PLL
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 21:01
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    disposable has a negative connotation because, well, it is pretty negative.
    – njzk2
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 21:16
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    Do we not want disposable because we want the user to feel better about themselves or because we want to encourage multiple uses, for financial or environmental reasons?
    – Unrelated
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 23:27

10 Answers 10


Single-use tableware is an option. It's something you might find at a catered event or anyplace that washing-up facilities aren't available, such as a street fair. It doesn't imply cheap - some of the stuff is quite good. You can also call it recyclable tableware if you are trying to be PC.

Single-use — ODO

adjective Designed to be used once and then disposed of or destroyed
"billions of single-use cups are thrown into landfill sites every year"

Usage examples:

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    This has the advantage of not using *disposable. +1 Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 16:17
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    I have edited your answer to add a definition. Hope I'm not stepping on your toes. Also, +1 :)
    – NVZ
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 16:19

I think OP's edited question makes my answer appear odd. So, check out a better answer by Phil Sweet.


noun An article designed to be thrown away after use
"don’t buy disposables, such as cups and plates"

The specific meaning will be understood from context.


noun 1. Knives, forks, spoons, cups, etc., made of plastic
"a picnic hamper with plasticware for six."

and similarly, paperware, etc.

I don't know of a simpler term than Disposable cutleryTFD

utensils, as knives, forks, and spoons, used for serving and eating food.

or disposable tablewareM-W

dishes, glasses, knives, forks, etc., that are used for serving and eating food at a table

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    Disposable tableware nails it, I think. +1 Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 14:35
  • I think OP's edited question makes my answer appear odd. :/
    – NVZ
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 16:14
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    @NVZ I am sorry about that, thank you for your suggestion of Plasticware and Paperware though.
    – GoodDeeds
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 17:42
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    In our house, we use the terms plastic knife, plastic fork, plastic spoon to clearly differentiate the cutlery we obtain at fast food places from the regular metal things. So plasticware seems good. Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 18:53

Party plates is a synonym for paper/plastic/disposable/unbreakable plates - you could therefore go for party tableware but that's a bit of a mouthfull so you could say party plates 'n' stuff.

Are you ready for the picnic? Who's bringing the party plates n stuff?

  • 2
    I like this answer. I believe you should coin the phrase "partyware"
    – Jammin4CO
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 16:25

"Paper service" seems like it might have the right meaning, so I thought I'd mention it.

I'm not sure it's the best choice–actually, I learned of this word recently in chat when someone else asked what it meant, and I had to do some Googling to find out, so it might not be widely understood. However, it does avoid the term "disposable" so that may be why some catering services use the term: it could be considered a marketing euphemism, like "bath tissue" for "toilet paper."

Here are some examples of it being used:

Since the Student Union does not have paper service, you have the availability to take food out of the Student Union in the following: - Eco Clamshells will be available to take out food - Bring your own cup: up to 32 oz [...] (Meal Plans – Cincinnati Christian University)

A catering business contrasts it with "china service":

Flatware Options

Standard Paper Service – included in base menu price

  • 10″ Chinet paper plate, black plastic utensils, paper napkins, paper coffee cups (Silver plastic utensils – add $0.25/person)

Disposable Imitation China – $3.50/person

  • 10” disposable plastic plate, disposable plastic coffee cup, silver plastic utensils, cloth-like paper napkins

Full China Service – $6.00/person (max. 150 people)

  • 10″ China plate, stainless silverware, China coffee cup and saucer, linen napkins

(MJ’s Market & Catering Terms & Conditions)

Another catering example:

Continental and Hot Breakfast Buffets include a draped buffet table and paper service. (Catering Manual - Eastern New Mexico University Roswell)


How about just plain old "Picnicware" It implies the nature of the stuff your talking about pretty clearly to most people, without reminding them about what happens to it afterwards "whether an actual picnic or not". A psychological parry is clearly what your after here. Its close to the mark for what your trying to describe.

  • I don't know what most people actually do, but virtually all the photos of picnic baskets clearly show metal non-disposable flatware. Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 16:13

It could depend on use too. This doesn't apply so much in the consumer sector, but for businesses, it would often be referred to as take-out supplies or to-go supplies and that's what it's often advertised as on websites that sell these supplies. You can see that on a few websites:

Branded take-out supplies exponentially elevate your brand and the investment in branded plastic cups will more than pay for itself. https://budgetbranders.com/products/custom-plastic-cups/

Declutter plastic silverware and other take out supplies. https://www.home-storage-solutions-101.com/declutter-plastic-cutlery-take-out-supplies.html


Not one word, but how about disposable dinnerware and flatware or disposable dinnerware and cutlery?

From Merriam-Webster:

dinnerware: tableware other than flatware

flatware, cutlery: forks, spoons, and knives used for serving and eating food

Note: There doesn't appear to be a single word that covers both dinnerware and flatware, not to mention a single word that also includes the concept of disposability. Hence, it's not obvious one can do better than three words without inventing new words.

Note: I was wrong about there not being a single word that covers both dinnerware and flatware: tableware does the job. See @NVZ's answer: disposable tableware.


So there are a couple options for a phrase to describe disposable cutlery, without the word disposable.

One options is to call it a cutlery kit, this of course usually has multiple utensils, such as a fork, knife, spoon, napkin, and sometimes salt & pepper.

A second option is to call it plastic cutlery.

Here's a reference that refers to both of those options: https://www.restaurantsupplydrop.com/collections/utensils


"Disposable" "Throw-away" source: http://skoozeme.com/issues/dontbus.html

[edit] "single use" The term is used in Seattle's "compostables" law and California's proposed "no forced straws" law. I guess anything's "disposable" with a large enough landfill!

"Party" does not describe this because (unless one has no access to durable tableware or is just being cheap) the "partyware" would be durable tableware.


I believe the word you are looking for is "Consumables".

  • Hi Kenevil, welcome to EL&U. This isn't a bad start, but it's too short: the system has flagged it as "low-quality because of its length and content." An answer on EL&U is expected to be authoritative, detailed, and explain why it is correct. It's best if you edit your answer to provide more information - e.g., add a published definition of consumables (linked to the source) and say why it suits the context. You could even add an etymology, some published examples or a Google Ngram! For further guidance, see How to Answer and take the EL&U Tour. :-) Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 1:06

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