There’s possibly an ‘you are what you eat’ joke to be made here, but Philips is now making kitchen appliances out of recycled cooking oil and other plant waste. The Philips Eco Breakfast set was released back in October, and I have to admit that I was a little sceptical about it at the time.
Bio-based plastics aren’t new, I’m very familiar with them as the plant elements in LEGO sets, and they’re normally a bit squishy. I didn’t know how they would stand up the rigors of daily use. But, after two months with them, I’m impressed. The collection in Australia and New Zealand includes a kettle and toaster, with a percolator coffee maker available in countries that aren’t used to good coffee.
After two months, here’s what’s good and bad about the collection.
Philips Eco Breakfast Set Toaster
The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the Philips Eco Breakfast Set toaster is that it has a little hat. It’s mostly plastic made to look like wood, and I haven’t seen that on a toaster before. I think it’s maybe to stop stuff falling in it when you’re not using it? Or to stop kids putting their hands in it? No idea, but it’s adorable. More appliances should have little hats.
The rest of the look is quite minimalist. There’s a little silver halo, the outside looks like a heathered grey, there’s a lever with a knob on one side to push down the bread and adjust the cooked-ness, and there’s a lever on the otherwise to push up the bun rack. There’s also a stop button for when you’ve overestimated how much toasting your bread can take. On the bottom there is a little crumb drawer.
As for the toasting, it does toast. There are 8 different toastiness settings, and they seem to provide good stepping stones. With frozen bread I’ve found it best to just toast it twice on my preferred setting. I think it would have been nicer if it had been a bit wider or deeper to fit more artisan breads. As it stands, the very top of Helgas bread sticks out a little, so once you get to larger sourdoughs or homemade oddities, choices need to be made.
Our old Breville toaster was very expensive, and it had a thousand features, and it also started randomly turning itself on around two months after the warranty expired, so I was worried it would set our house on fire. Compared to that fancy toaster, this toaster does almost nothing. There’s no crumpet setting, no fancy breads settings, nothing. However, aside from the crumpet setting, we also only used those fancy settings twice and then worked out we liked picking settings from the dial better anyway. While I do miss that crumpet setting, we also don’t really get store-bought crumpets so much because it’s nicer to eat sourdough crumpets fresh from the frying pan anyway.
I’d posit that most people don’t actually use their fancy toaster settings. If you want a toaster that toasts and doesn’t try to get fancy about it, this will do that relatively attractively.
Philips Eco Breakfast Set Kettle
With 2200W of power, this kettle boils water fairly quickly. It’s not the fastest kettle I’ve tried, nor is it the slowest. It’s also a very minimalist kettle, and I find that frustrating for $129. Most kettles around that price point will allow you to select different water temperatures for tea and coffee. This one boils water and does nothing else.
It also will only boil 1.7L of water, which is such an irritating amount. It’s not quite 2L, it’s not even 7 full cups. I can’t remember a time I’ve ever wanted exactly 1.7L of water. How did they come up with this size? No.
That said, if you do only ever want boiled water, and not any other temperature of water, and don’t mind the capacity, it’s quite a nice kettle. It has a little wood-look lid, I like that you just fully lift the lid on and off rather than using a trigger mechanism that can break. The handle is nice and long for people who might need to use two hands. The heathered grey is attractive. What’s more is that after constant use for two months, it still looks basically the same. I thought maybe the heat might have damaged the bio-plastic, but it hasn’t. It works well.
Is the Philips Eco Breakfast Set eco-friendly?
Yes and no. The most eco-friendly choice you can make is getting a good quality product that does what you need it to do, and then use it for as long as possible, getting it repaired as needed, and only recycling it when it’s no longer practical to repair. I’m not sure how repairable these products are, they certainly don’t seem to be easily user-repairable, so that doesn’t bode well. However, they’re also so simple, with so few features, that there isn’t really much that would need repairing.
The other problem is recyclability at the end of their lifecycles, and while aluminium is infinitely recyclable, bioplastic recycling is currently not well established in Australia, so almost every component of this breakfast set is destined for landfill eventually unless there are some major changes to Australia’s recycling program. However, most other toasters are also destined for landfill because much of Australia lacks easy access to e-waste recycling programs. At least this one starts off eco-friendly, even if it might not end that way.
They’re really good, basic kitchen appliances that are more expensive than their less eco-friendly versions, and don’t have as many features as other products in their price range. However, good quality, eco-friendlier stuff costs more than the cheap nasty stuff made by impoverished children out of fossil fuels (though, I don’t know the working conditions of Philips factory workers, only that this product isn’t made from fossil fuels).
You have to consider what you’re getting for the money, and what you actually need from it.
If you’re looking for something simple and find them at a decent discount, then these are great, attractive machines that do exactly what they say they will.