It's well known that plastic straws are one of the single-use plastics that contribute significantly to landfill and often end up harming our ocean's eco-systems. Recently, the movement to phase out plastic straw use has been gaining traction in Australia – with the contribution of #TheLastStraw lobby group, commitment of major retailers (including Starbucks and McDonald's), and most recently, the Sydney Opera House and Solotel Group's Sydney Opera Bar, which joined the #SydneyDoesntSuck campaign to cut-down on plastic straw use alongside other iconic Sydney venues such as the International Convention Centre and Museum of Contemporary Art.
[ Read our blog on Paper Straws here: https://www.pactrading.com.au/blog/paper-straws/ ]
But if you are keen to get rid of single-use plastic straws, what are the sustainable alternatives?
While there are numerous options available on the market, it's important to consider the unique characteristics of each available option – to make a sustainable choice that suits your business!
To start, we decided to compare three main alternatives to single-use plastic straws; Paper Straws, PLA (bioplastic) Straws and Bamboo Straws, and to explore their functionality and compostability, along with consumer perceptions.
Material: Raw material FSC certified paper is made from wood fibre, harvested from sustainably managed forests - a natural renewable resource. Functionality: Disposable / single-use / cold drinks only End of life options: Compostable / organics and food waste stream / degrade in the natural environment Consumer acceptance: Some people dislike it as paper straws become soft faster in comparison to plastic straws.
Material: Made from Ingeo PLA, a bioplastic produced from corn. The production of PLA produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions when compared to conventional plastic production. Functionality: Disposable / single-use / cold drinks only PLA straws are heat sensitive and must be stored out of direct sun, away from any heat sources and kept below 35°C. End of life options: Compostable / organics and food waste stream industrial composting only / won't degrade in the natural environment. Consumer acceptance: Same feel and functionality as standard plastic straws.
Material: Made from bamboo – a natural renewable material. Fast growing bamboo regenerates quickly, making it a sustainable choice. Growing at a rate of up to 91 cm a day, bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on earth.
Bamboo requires no irrigation and unlike trees it rarely needs replanting after it's harvested, it grows rapidly and can be harvested in 3-5 years. Functionality: Reusable / suits cold and hot drinks Need to be cleaned with a special brush. End of life options: Can be reused and then compostable / organics and food waste stream / degrade in the natural environment Consumer acceptance: Natural look and feel, easy to clean (with a special brush)
Of course, at the end of the day, its important to pick the straw that matches your business! While for some, the rustic, natural-feel of bamboo will be a perfect match, others might prefer the retro striped paper straws or clean-cut PLA straws. With single-use plastic straws out of the picture, we are excited to explore the possibilities of new, eco-friendly alternatives.