Sustainable Pans: Sauté the Eco Way

Sustainable Pans: Introduction

Welcome to this week’s sustainability tip for the Play It Green community where, today, we’re diving into the world of sustainable pans! Our mission is to empower you with practical advice to make conscious choices that positively impact our planet.

Traditional cookware can have a significant environmental footprint, from the materials used to the manufacturing process and disposal. In this article, we’ll explore the history of pans, the environmental impact of conventional options, what to look for in sustainable alternatives, and introduce you to some fantastic brands making a difference.

Let’s cook with a conscience and make our kitchens greener!

The History of Pans

The history of pans is rich and fascinating, stretching back thousands of years. The earliest known frying pans, dating back to ancient Mesopotamia around 3000 BCE, were simple clay vessels used for cooking over open flames.

The Greeks and Romans later improved upon these designs, creating bronze and iron pans, which became household staples. One intriguing fact is that in ancient Rome, a special type of pan called a “patella” was used not just for cooking but also for religious offerings. In medieval Europe, cast iron pans emerged, prized for their durability and heat retention.

These pans were often handed down through generations, symbolising the enduring value of quality cookware. By the 18th century, advancements in metalworking allowed for the creation of lighter, more efficient pans. Following this, the 20th century saw the introduction of aluminium and stainless steel pans, which offered improved heat conductivity and resistance to rust.

Sustainable Pans - The Roman 'patella' pan was used for both cooking and religious offerings
The Roman 'patella' pan was used for both cooking and religious offerings

The non-stick revolution of the mid-20th century, while convenient, introduced environmental and health concerns due to the chemicals used in coatings. Read on to find out the facts about the environmental impact of modern ‘traditional’ pans.

The Environmental Impact of Non Sustainable Pans

Traditional pans, especially those with non-stick coatings, pose several environmental challenges. The manufacturing process often involves mining metals like aluminium and iron, which contributes to habitat destruction and pollution.

Non-stick pans typically use a coating made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which releases toxic fumes when overheated. Furthermore. it contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known as “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment. These substances can leach into food during cooking and linger in landfills long after the pan has been discarded.
Additionally, the production of non-stick coatings generates greenhouse gases and other pollutants, further exacerbating their environmental footprint. The disposal of traditional pans also presents challenges; many are not easily recyclable due to mixed materials and chemical coatings, leading to increased landfill waste. This waste can contribute to soil and water contamination, impacting ecosystems and human health. 

Sustainable Pans Most non stick frying pans are very difficult to recycle and end up in landfill wasting resources
Most non stick frying pans are very difficult to recycle and end up in landfill wasting vital resources

As awareness of these issues grows, it becomes increasingly important for consumers to consider the environmental implications of their cookware choices and seek out more sustainable alternatives. Choosing sustainable pans can significantly reduce your kitchen’s ecological footprint, positively impacting the planet. Next, we provide some advice on what to look for when it comes to environmentally friendly pans!

What to Look for in Sustainable Pans

When looking for sustainable pans, you should think about materials, manufacturing practices, and overall environmental impact. Look for pans made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled stainless steel, cast iron, or carbon steel. These materials all have lower environmental footprints and are highly durable.

This means that the materials not only offer excellent cooking performance but also reduce the need for frequent replacements. Choose pans with natural, non-toxic coatings like ceramic or enamel. Materials like this avoid the harmful chemicals found in traditional non-stick coatings. Packaging is another critical factor; opt for brands that use minimal, recyclable, or compostable packaging to reduce waste.
Certifications such as Green Seal or Cradle to Cradle can help identify products that meet high environmental and health standards. Additionally, consider the manufacturing process—brands that prioritise energy-efficient production methods and ethical labour practices contribute to a more sustainable product lifecycle. Supporting companies that are transparent about their sourcing and production practices can make a significant difference.

Sustainable Pans - Look for pans made from recycled iron or aluminium and avoid traditional non stick coatings
Look for pans made from recycled iron or aluminium and avoid traditional non stick coatings

By paying attention to these factors, you can choose cookware that benefits both your kitchen and the planet. You are then ensuring your culinary adventures are even more eco-friendly. Sustainable pans not only enhance your cooking experience but also contribute to a healthier environment for future generations.

Three of Our Favourite Sustainable Pan Brands

Emba Cookware

Emba Cookware is renowned for its sustainable approach to cast iron cookware. By using recycled iron from the UK, they create durable, long-lasting pans through traditional Coalbrookdale casting methods. Their naturally seasoned cookware provides a non-toxic, non-stick surface that improves with each use, making it both eco-friendly and superior in performance. Emba’s commitment to British manufacturing supports local jobs and ensures high-quality, sustainable cookware.

Visit their website to see their whole range of sustainable pans!

Sustainable Pans Emba 12 inch Cast Iron Skillet comes with a lifetime warranty
Emba's 12 inch Cast Iron Skillet comes with a lifetime warranty


GreenPan is a leader in non-toxic, eco-friendly sustainable pans. They use Thermolon, a ceramic non-stick coating free of PFAS, PFOA, lead, and cadmium. This innovative material not only provides excellent cooking performance but also reduces the environmental impact. GreenPan’s commitment to sustainability extends to their use of upcycled stainless steel and aluminium in their products, making them a great choice for health-conscious and environmentally aware cooks.

You can sign up to the GreenPan mailing list on their website for 15% off your first purchase.

Sustainable Pans - Greenpan Eco-Smartshape Non-Stick Frying Pan is healthy and PFAS free
Greenpan Eco-Smartshape Non-Stick Frying Pan is healthy and PFAS free

Prestige Eco Cookware

Prestige offers the Eco range of sustainable pans, made from recycled materials and designed to be recycled again. Their pans feature a plant-based, non-stick coating, which is free from harmful chemicals and performs excellently. Prestige’s focus on sustainability includes eco-friendly packaging and a commitment to reducing carbon footprint in their manufacturing processes. Their cookware is a perfect blend of functionality, durability, and environmental responsibility.

Head to their website and use code UNI15P at checkout to get 15% off your purchase!

Sustainable Pans _ Prestige Eco Plant Based Non-Stick Induction Frying Pan in Grey
Prestige Eco Plant Based Non-Stick Induction Frying Pan in Grey

Sustainable Pans: Wrap Up

Thank you for exploring sustainable cookware options with us! Switching to eco-friendly pans like those from Emba, GreenPan, and Prestige not only enhances your cooking experience but also supports a healthier planet.

If your business has a canteen, consider making the switch there too—small changes can lead to big impacts. Join our Play It Green community in making conscious choices that empower us all to be part of the solution.

Together, we can cook up a more sustainable future. Remember, your choices matter. Let’s make them count!

Play It Green: Empowering Your Sustainability Journey

Ready to take your commitment to sustainability to the next level? Play It Green stands as your partner in creating positive environmental change. From educational resources on sustainable practices and signposting to sustainable services to initiatives like tree planting and social giving, Play It Green offers a holistic approach to environmental stewardship. 

Join us in the journey toward sustainability—embrace eco-conscious practices and be a force for positive change in our world. All whilst staying relevant, meeting legislation and aligning with the values of today’s consumers and employees.

Not A Member Yet?

Why Not Join Play It Green for £5 per month
Back to articles
Share this

Find Out More

Discover how your business can thrive sustainably

By submitting you agree to the privacy policy


Follow Us


Follow Us