Paper Straws vs. Compostable Plastic Straws (PLA)

Which are better for the environment to use?

Single-use plastics are on the way out – what is the best replacement when it comes to straws?

The main reason cited for eliminating plastic straws is their negative impact on our oceans and marine wildlife. Plastic in the ocean is a huge problem — look no further than trash island, or the viral video of a turtle suffering as a result of ocean pollution, to understand that. The call to eliminate single-use plastic straws is here, how will your restaurant, bar, or café move forward?

Why are straws a big target? The problem is their size. They are small and inconspicuous. So much so that people often forget they are plastic and do not recycle them.

Straws that do get recycled often don’t make it through the mechanical recycling sorter because they are so small and lightweight. So they contaminate recycling loads or get disposed of as garbage.

It is estimated that the average person uses 1.6 straws per day. That means that if 25,000 people stop using straws, we would eliminate 5,000,000 straws and prevent them from entering oceans and harming wildlife.

So, knowing that most straws, recycled or not, are likely to end up in our oceans, and knowing the amount of straws being used every day, individuals cutting back on use can make a difference.

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Alternatives to Plastic Straws
Some states, like California, that have recently introduced straw provisions have thought about these situations and instead of an all-out ban, they are proposing only having them available on request.

And business owners who live in places with bans will also need to adapt to providing more sustainable options for their customers (while making sure that there are options for all their customers).

The original draw of plastic was how cheap it is to produce products on a mass scale. With the new bans, businesses that once used cheap plastic straws are now having to adjust financially to the pressure from their customers and the world to provide alternatives.

Boba Tea & Bubble Tea

Diagonal-cut or flat-bottom paper straws made specifically for Boba Tea & Bubble Tea.

PLA "Compostable" Plastic Straws

Compostable straws
The straw option you’ll likely start seeing the most in restaurants and from major food corporations is compostable straws that look and feel similar to the plastic straws you’re used to.

It is important to note that emerging research suggests that compostable plastic straw alternatives are not as ecofriendly as we thought. This is mainly chalked up to the fact that compostable straws do not biodegrade any quicker than traditional plastic straws, unless they are disposed of in a commercial composter.

Compostable straws do not biodegrade any quicker than traditional plastic straws

OkStraw Polka Dots Paper Straws

Paper straws, such as all OkStraw products, decompose in 45–90 days and provide an ecofriendly alternative to plastic straws

Paper straws
Before there were plastic straws, there were paper straws. In fact, Marvin Stone created the very first straw by wrapping pieces of paper around a tube and gluing the pieces together. Paper straws, such as all OkStraw products, decompose in 45–90 days and provide an ecofriendly alternative to plastic straws.

Another draw of paper straws is that companies have started printing different designs on the straws to create more variety and themes for consumers.

So what is the best option for your business and the environment? 

While we are obviously biased here at OkStraw, we think the compostability of our premium strength paper straws make them the ideal choice for your restaurant, bar, or cafe. The fact that “compostable” plastic straws (PLA) are likely to end up in the same place as plastic straws and cannot actually decompose makes the decision easy. 

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