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Biopac blog: Say no to plastic straws

"Refuse the straw."

After recent publicity gained through various documentaries, a high profile YouTube video and Vivienne Westwood’s high profile ‘refuse the straw campaign’, more and more consumers are becoming concerned about plastic straws. As concern grows and the government considers introducing a tax to deter their usage, an increasing number of companies are choosing biodegradable solutions. Following a recent increase in demand for compostable straws, we explore the topic in more detail to help explain why this small and seemingly innocent catering essential poses a massive threat to our environment.

Why are plastic straws becoming an increasingly unpopular choice?

Single-use plastics have long been a concern for environmental activists – as landfill sites grow and unsustainable manufacturing has major implications for people and the places they live in. Yet plastic straws in particular have been highlighted as a significant issue worldwide – for wildlife in particular. As they don’t deteriorate, they often drift out to sea, where they pose a threat to marine animals who mistake their small, long shape for food.

This often leads to suffocation and death – creating an epidemic that affects some of our much loved and most threatened species including sea turtles, penguins, seals and dolphins.

This devastating effect on endangered sea life isn’t the only reason to consider an all-out ban. By nature, plastic straws also contribute to the growing issue of non-biodegradable waste piling up worldwide. They’re used once, or not at all, before being discarded – often unrecyclable, ending up in giant landfill sites destined to take up to 200 years to degrade.

This is perhaps the most palatable destination – as an alarming amount of plastic straws end up strewn across countryside and floating in our oceans – perhaps thanks to their small size. Plastic straws were amongst the top ten items found in beach clean ups, so it’s hardly surprising that they eventually make their way out to sea where they pose a significant threat to otherwise protected species.

Whilst BioPlastic (Compostable) straws are more sustainable and made from waste products they still require correct disposal and will not breakdown in a landfill environment.

What's the answer?

The first port of call for activists has been consumer behaviour, and the routine distribution of straws at restaurants and food outlets. Targeting of restaurants and eateries seems to have worked – with several high-profile eateries (including Randall & Aubin and All Bar One) reconsidering their straw consumption and opting for sustainable alternatives - following the release of a video showing a turtle in pain as a plastic straw was removed from its nose. Meanwhile, the viral clip caused public outcry and encouraged consumers to cut back on wasteful habits and actively refuse a straw when eating out. Of course, some companies do still want to provide straws, or perhaps must – if they offer takeaway food. This is where environmentally friendly alternatives come into play.

An immediate and simple solution is to remove straws from customers ‘free use’ and only provide them if they are asked for. This can reduce use by up to 80%.


Compostable straws in demand as companies make the switch

As with all sustainable packaging solutions, making the switch from plastic to more considerate alternatives are simple and inexpensive. In recent months, we’ve seen a massive increase in orders for compostable and paper straws – with more and more of our customers expected to make the switch as the year goes on.

We offer a range of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional plastic straws, such as:

• Fully Compostable Flexi-Straws that look and feel like plastic yet don’t have quite the same impact on the environment as plastic.
• Paper Straws which are our best alternative for the environment, that will reduce significant pollution in the ocean as they will fully degrade in all environments.

This ensures that companies can maintain the same experience for customers, without contributing to a growing ecological problem.

Interested in providing a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic straws and packaging? Take a look at Biopac’s full range of straws here or view their compostable straws and paper straw categories.

Don’t forget, as an NCASS member you are entitled to 10% off Biopac’s packaging!


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