Plastic straw alternatives
Villeroy & Boch is committed to sustainability
Plastic straws are small, light and practical – so why should we use alternatives made from other materials? They may be small, but plastic straws cause significant damage. 360 billion plastic straws are used around the world every year, which makes it a serious ecological problem.
This is why we should avoid plastic straws:
Environmentally damaging production: Crude oil is required to make plastic – a finite resource whose extraction causes major environmental pollution.
Harmful substances:Plasticisers such as BPA (bisphenol A) are often used to make plastic straws. They are suspected of being harmful.
Difficult to degrade: Plastic straws contain polypropylenes. There are many different reasons why plastic straws still end up in the environment. It then takes up to 500 years for polypropylene to decompose.
Microplastics are formed: Plastic straws break down into smaller pieces over many decades. They form microplastics, which can get into the soil and oceans.
Environmental pollution: Plastic straws are so small and light that they can easily contaminate the environment. Shipping often entails storing waste at the ports, and this is how plastic straws can get into the oceans.
Dangerous for animals: Wildlife can easily swallow or inhale the thin straws. It also affects us humans: we can ingest microplastics when we eat fish.
Here are a few alternatives to plastic straws
You don't have to stop using straws completely to enjoy your favourite drinks. Below
you will find an overview of plastic straw alternatives along with their pros and
cons compared to plastic straws.
Paper straws are an obvious plastic straw alternative – after all, they were used before plastic was invented. However, paper straws are still a single-use product with a questionable life-cycle assessment.
Pros of paper straws:
- Paper straws are just as light as plastic straws.
- They can be recycled and are compostable and biodegradable.
- Paper straws come in different designs.
Cons of paper straws:
- Paper straws are single-use straws, just like plastic straws, therefore a disposable product.
- The manufacturing process uses a relatively large amount of resources – especially for coloured paper straws.
- Chemicals are sometimes used to make them.
- Paper straws get soft after a certain amount of time in the drink.
- Paper straws aren’t always tasteless and can have a negative effect on the flavour.
Stainless steel straws
Metal straws were being used as far back as 5000 years ago. And environmental associations today still recommend them.
Pros of stainless steel straws:
- Stainless steel straws are reusable.
- Stainless steel can be recycled.
- The material is unbreakable and durable.
- It does not contain any harmful chemicals.
- Stainless steel straws are dishwasher-safe.
Cons of stainless steel straws:
- Stainless steel is not completely tasteless.
Plastic straw alternatives made from silicone are soft and supple. As they are unbreakable, they often seem to be a suitable option for children. But you should be wary of questionable substances. Although silicone straws are reusable products, their life-cycle assessment tends to be negative due to their substances.
Pros of silicone straws:
- The supple and flexible material is perfect when you’re on the go.
- Silicone straws are reusable.
Cons of silicone straws:
- Silicone straws are not tasteless.
- Food can quickly stick to the material, which can also get statically charged and attract dust particles. This is why silicone is not very hygienic.
- Plasticisers such as BPA are often used to make silicone straws.
- Silicone is not biodegradable and very difficult to recycle unlike glass or stainless steel.
Plastic straw alternatives made from glass look very elegant and stylish. The Villeroy & Boch Artesano glass straw set provides the perfect drinking experience for hot and cold drinks. Environmental associations recommend glass straws as their life-cycle assessment is very positive.
Pros of glass straws:
- Glass straws are reusable.
- Glass straws can be disposed of as waste glass.
- Glass straws can be recycled and are therefore environmentally friendly.
- The material does not contain any harmful substances.
Bamboo is a natural material – with all its pros and cons. It does have a certain natural antibacterial effect, but its hygienic aspect is not the best. This is why bamboo straws can be used in private households, but are not suitable for the hospitality industry.
Pros of bamboo straws:
- Bamboo straws are reusable.
- The natural material does not contain any harmful substances.
- Bamboo straws are biodegradable.
Cons of bamboo straws:
- Bamboo straws can only be used a few times and then wear out quicker than plastic straw alternatives made from glass or stainless steel.
- Bamboo has a strong taste of its own.
- Bamboo stains easily.
- Bamboo is difficult to clean and not dishwasher-safe. A special cleaning brush for straws is needed. Bamboo straws can also be rinsed with boiling water.
Apple pulp straws
Edible plastic straws made from apple pulp (a by-product in the manufacturing of apple juice) are just one example of original plastic straw alternatives available in the market. Apple straws are an edible single-use product.
Pros of apple pulp straws:
- The straws can be eaten and disposed of as organic waste.
- Production is relatively resource-efficient.
- They do not contain any harmful substances.
Cons of apple pulp straws:
- Apple straws get soft after a certain amount of time in the drink.
- The sweet and sour apple taste is not always wanted with every drink.
- Apple straws cannot be recycled. A new straw has to be used for every drink, which costs resources in the production process.
Plastic straw alternatives made from seaweed were developed by a company in New York. They resemble conventional plastic straws when it comes to their weight, use and mouthfeel. But they are much more environmentally friendly.
Pros of seaweed straws:
- Algae straws decompose naturally within two months.
- Seaweed straws are tasteless.
- No harmful or environmentally damaging substances are used in the manufacturing process.
Cons of seaweed straws:
- Seaweed straws are a single-use product. They are in fact biodegradable, but environmental associations recommend using reusable products.