Q&As / SUSTAINABILITY / Jan 2021

PHA STRAWS VS. PLASTIC STRAWS

 

PHA Straws vs Plastic Straws

Learn about the earth-friendly alternative to the humble plastic straw

 

Plastic straws have, in recent years, become a major target for many environmental movements. Their impact on the environment has come under scrutiny thanks to photos of marine life interacting with human-generated trash. It’s estimated that around 70% of seabirds and 30% of sea turtles have ingested some type of plastic from their ocean. Seahorses wrap their tails around plastic straws, the straws get stuck in coral reefs and impact local ecosystems, and marine animals may mistake pieces of straws for food, contributing to poor digestive health and sometimes even leading to starvation.

Now it’s not so much the shape or nature of the straw that makes it problematic; it’s just the fact that they’re made from plastic, which takes hundreds of years to decompose and are so small and lightweight that it’s easy for it to get carried by the wind and end up in storm drains, and inevitably the ocean. But there are options out there that are much more sustainable while also giving you the same vibe of drinking your soda with a straw. Today, we thought we would do a bit of a deep dive into the humble straw and what sustainable options exist.

History of straws

Surprisingly, even though paper straws are pretty popular now, straws actually started off made of paper instead of plastic. It was only after the 1960s, when plastic became a bigger industry, that people switched to plastic straws for their durability because let’s face it, paper straws will eventually get soggy and wilt when left for too long in beverages. In more recent years, the popularity of drinks like iced coffee and boba have driven more consumer demand for straws. Though the official figure has yet to be determined, some say that Americans use almost half a billion plastic straws every day.

Public pushback

Thanks to marine biologists and environmentalists railing against the detrimental effects of plastic straws, plastic straws have been slowly getting phased out. Back in 2018, Starbucks announced an end goal of cutting out single-use plastic straws by 2020. Now, Starbucks features new strawless cups and offers alternatives where straws are needed. Live Nation, the entertainment conglomerate, also announced that they would be offering marine-friendly alternatives made from paper in all of their spaces. At the municipal level, many coastal cities in the United States have been taking action as well. Portland, Oregon is one example of a city to completely get rid of plastic straws.

Better alternatives to plastic

Surprisingly, despite the resurgence of plastic bags in the era of COVID-19, plastic straws are still getting phased out. It seems like there’s sufficient alternatives out there to replace it. More eco-friendly options include paper, of course, but also bamboo and PLA.

Critics of these alternative straws, however, point to the fact that these straws need to be industrially composted, and most of these straws never make it to an industrial composting facility. But what’s where PHA comes in.

 

What is PHA?

  • PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) is a naturally occurring biopolymer that is made from a bacterium.
  • It’s naturally-derived and is marine and soil biodegradable.
  • PHA straws are home compostable, so you can put it in your compost bin, nor does it need industrial processing the way some compostable straws do. 

This means that straws made from PHA actually are part of a continuous cycle with minimal environmental impact. It’s a straw that doesn’t compromise performance for sustainability!

While the best straw for the planet is perhaps no straw at all, straws made from biodegradable materials like PHA are a significantly better alternative to plastic straws. Customers have found that PHA straws like LifeMade’s Earth Friendly Straws perform just as well as plastic ones and don’t wilt in hot beverages. These straws match traditional plastic straws in terms of matching their strength and durability (i.e. no risk of your straw turning soggy in your drink or making it difficult to suck up any liquid) and are an amazing option that will allow you to continue drinking with abandon.

 


Check out PHA straws on LifeMade today!

Life. Made Better.

LifeMade is all about making life better through sustainable innovation and product experiences. Every step we take in this direction brings us closer to our vision of a no-compromise future — one where everyone has access to disposable products that are as good for the earth as they are convenient and enjoyable to use. As pioneers in our industry with a century’s worth of experience, it’s our responsibility to harness what we do best — materials innovation and production — for a better world. We’re inspired by the families that enjoy our products and committed to meaningful change.

Life. Made Better.