Menus in a bin or menus in a washer

Disposable menus v Washable menus

Disposable menus v Washable menus

So we keep getting told that disposable menus are the only way to go right now. Here we explore the pros and cons for both to help you to make the best decision for your operation.


We wrote this article in the context of a COVID world where demonstrable hygiene is essential, but actually, it could apply in less challenging times too.


Firstly there is no statutory requirement for a particular menu type in most countries. Additional legal requirements for our COVID world revolve around physical distancing of people and opening and closing times. High standards of hygiene monitored by Environmental Health Departments are essential as ever. 


What do we mean by a disposable menu? A single-use menu that is only presented to one customer and then thrown away, hopefully, recycled. Usually, this will be on light paper stock - 90-150gsm and likely to be A3 or A4 in size, single or double-sided.


What do we mean by a washable menu? A menu is washable when it can be washed in hot soapy water and still look good as new. The result is the menu is multi-use, it can be used time and again, and again and again. There is a variety of this type of reusable menu available: Laminated paper or card is one option, but they do fray and can go soggy, so washing in a sink is not possible. The other options all involve plastic, and there are several different types of plastic menu. Sizes are myriad, but A4 and A3 are standard. They are printed in colour on one or both sides too.


Paper in the recycling bin

or washing up: 

 Menus stacked in a washing up rack alongside plates

OK, so we know what we mean by washable or disposable.


Here they are from different points of view:



Disposable menus give customers confidence that there are good hygiene practises underway. You get a menu, and it is taken away and put in the bin. 

Washable menus give customers confidence by the demonstration of washing them. Just like you clean glasses, plates and crockery, you can clean menus too. 

Disposable menus - do they all go in the bin every time?

Washable menus - do they get washed every time? 



Disposable menus - use it and bin it. Easy. OK but you are going to need a few? are you going to need to keep them somewhere? The fewer you order at one time, the more they are going to cost you per unit so best buy 10, 000 pages of 130gsm A3 paper will weigh 162kg without the packing. These menus stacked on top of each other will stand over 1m high. They are going to take storage space. Best not stack them all together though, that's dangerous!


A pile of paper balancing two adults and a child on a see saw


Washable menus - use it then wash it. OK, perhaps a bit more handling but hey you wash your plates glasses and cutlery don't you? The great thing about the washable menu is that you don't need so many. How many? How many covers do you have? How often do all those covers walk-in at once? So 100 covers? Get 120 menus, probably more than you need, but it will give you a few extras, just in case. 120 A3 SuperTuffMenus, other washable menus are available, will weigh about 10kgs and stand about 10cm high. But they are going to be out on the floor most of the time anyway.


Very high and heavy stack of disposable menus outweighs a smaller stack of reusable menus



Disposable menus - they can be cheap. Unit costs are as low as you will get unless you upgrade the paper to improve the aesthetic or quality. Anyway ballpark costs for 10,000 A3 menus, full-colour both sides? £500-£600? that's good. 5p or 6p each. Not bad. Mind you; there are other costs, the environmental cost of all that paper, the carbon footprint of the delivery and the printing.


Washable menus - cost more - they do more. 120 SuperTuffMenus® will cost £6.75 each.


How many covers are you going through in a week? 100 cover restaurant? Turning your tables two times - I'm sure you are doing better than that but let's say an average of 2 times a week. Open seven days? So 100 covers, turned x2, seven days that's 1400 a week. Your 10000 menus will last a little more than seven weeks. 

In a year you will have spent over £3k.

SuperTuffMenus® will last a year. You will have spent a little more than £800…hmm these SuperTuffMenus are looking good now.




But we change our menu often? Really? How often? Why? More on that next time.

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