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Compostable Straws vs Plastic Straws: Which One Is Best?

For the eco-conscious, the consideration for compostable straws vs. plastic straws is trending among consumers, businesses, and even the world’s governments. 

Environmental Concerns and The Growth of Compostable Straws

The interest in eco-friendly, compostable straws is fueled by growing concern for the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and our oceans. The very asset of plastic, its durability, means that it does not easily break down in the environment. When it does break down, it simply divides into ever smaller pieces, resulting in tiny microplastics. 

These tiny microplastics are abundant in all the world’s oceans. This not only impacts marine life but the humans who feed off of them. As the extent of marine plastic pollution becomes more apparent, legislators and consumers are demanding alternatives. 

Legislation and the Impact on Plastic Straws

In 2019, the State of California completed the full roll-out of an ordinance that restricted restaurants, including fast food, food kiosks, and food trucks, from automatically handing out straws to diners, unless requested. 

While the State of California might be attempting to suppress the use of straws in restaurant environments, the global food service sector continues to grow, increasing the need for and usage of straws.  

As environmental education increases and legislation responds, consumer preference is shifting away from plastic straws to the more eco-friendly paper and other biodegradable options. Growth in the sale of eco-friendly straws is currently at an annual CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 5.1% and is expected to reach $1.5B in sales in 2022.

The Advantages of Plastic Straws vs. Compostable Straws

Plastic straws have been with us since around World War II. Designed to be functional and durable, plastic straws have been a popular and expected feature in restaurants for decades. 

Plastic straws are easy to manufacture and readily available in bulk to businesses that offer them. Plastic straws are tried and true offering hospitality, institutional, and commercial customers easy access to a needed item with many options available for different use cases. 

Uses for Plastic Straws

The ability to offer the right plastic straw for consumers makes their experience more enjoyable. Plastic straws come in many size options and are great for:

  • School lunch milk straws
  • Soft drink jumbo straws
  • Super jumbo straws for slushies
  • Dessert spoon straws
  • Drinking straws
  • Bubble tea straws

Plastic Straws Come in Many Sizes

Different drinks require different-sized straws. The high capacity production ability of plastic straws makes various sizes readily available including short straws for cocktails, standard drinking glass sizes as well as up to jumbo and mega sizes for the largest soft and slushie drinks.

Plastic Straws Come in Many Colors

Colored plastic straws provide a more custom look. Plastic straws offer a multitude of color options so that your straws look just right to go along with your food service environment.

Some restaurants, hotels, and bars prefer plastic straw colors that match their brand. Budget-friendly customization is available to achieve just the right color for your plastic straws.

Individually Wrapped Plastic Straws

Plastic straws can be wrapped or unwrapped, depending on the need. Individually wrapped straws are great for many dining experiences while unwrapped are suitable for straw dispensers that allow easy access by consumers.

Individually-wrapped plastic straws are perfect for restaurants, cafeterias, bars, hotels, and catering. Wrapped plastic straws ensure sanitary conditions, important to most consumers. 

Flexible Plastic Straws

Flexible plastic straws are a fun option. Designed to make it even easier to drink a beverage, the flexible section of the plastic straw is moveable, allowing the sipper to set their straw at just the right angle. Flexible plastic straws are popular with dining establishments that want to provide something extra for their diners. 

Why Use Plastic Straws vs. Compostable Straws?

Plastic straws offer convenience and flexibility in size, and color and are either wrapped or unwrapped. For a budget-conscious business with high volume needs, plastic straws can be very affordable when purchased in bulk. 

Compostable Alternatives to Plastic Straws

As the demand by restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars, and lounges for alternatives to plastic straws grows, due to consumer preference and local legislation, the options for eco-friendly biodegradable straws increases as well.

Paper Straws

One of the early alternatives to plastic straws, paper straws were designed to be a sustainable, single-use, eco-friendly option. As more establishments offered paper straws, consumers and manufacturers recognized the need for straws that felt more like plastic since paper straws tend to get soggy too quickly, losing their structure and durability.

Compostable Straws

Enter compostable straws. These eco-friendly straws are designed to decompose and lessen the impact on the environment compared to plastic straws. For businesses that want to reduce their carbon footprint, compostable, eco-friendly straws are the perfect solution.

Embracing Compostable Straw Sustainability 

Compostable straws are eco-friendly, helping to reduce the carbon footprint of not only the business but their customers as well. 

Compostable straws are manufactured from 100% bio-based, renewable materials making them biodegradable. Compared to plastic straws, compostable straws naturally degrade into nutrient-rich organic materials and result in fertilizer.

What are Compostable Straws

Unlike plastic straws, compostable straws are made from bio-based plant materials that biodegrade or compost fully in commercial composting facilities. These environmentally-friendly straws are sometimes made from corn plastic, which is 100% renewable. When these compostable straws degrade, they do not leave behind any toxic residue.

Types of Compostable Straws

Compostable straws are either PLA compostable straws or Marine-Degradable PHA biodegradable.

PLA Straws

PLA, or polylactic acid straws, are “bioplastic straws” with a look and feel identical to plastic straws. Instead of using man-made plastic, they are made from fermented plant starch, such as sugarcane, cassava, corn starch, or sugar beet pulp, making them 100% compostable

For businesses and consumers who are eco-conscious, PLA straws are a great alternative to plastic or paper straws. 

PHA Straws

PHA straws are made from Polyhydroxyalkanoate, or PHY, an eco-friendly material made from canola oil. PHA straws are completely plastic-free and designed to be even more marine and soil biodegradable. PHA straws easily break down in commercial and home composting environments.

Individually Wrapped Compostable Straws

Like plastic straws, compostable straws can be individually wrapped or unwrapped,  come in all sizes, and have color options. 

For eco-friendly businesses who want to reduce their carbon footprint for themselves and their customers, they can choose individually wrapped compostable straws complete with eco-friendly messaging. 

This lets customers know that the straw they are using is a well-made, compostable straw and not a non-biodegradable plastic one.  

Advantages of Compostable Straws vs Plastic Straws

As education about the need to reduce the use of everyday plastic items increases, advances in straw manufacturing are addressing the environmental challenge.

Designed to be biodegradable, compostable straws naturally degrade into nutrient-rich organic materials that can be used as fertilizer. These alternative straws help to reduce the amount of plastic being deposited in our soil and in our oceans while still allowing consumers the option to use a straw when preferred.

Contact Servous for Plastic and Compostable Straws for Your Business

When deciding which type of straws are right for your business, the experts at Servous can help. We know the ins and outs of straw selection and customization to help you find the right option for your food service needs. 

From individually wrapped to unwrapped straws, color and size selections, and plastic vs. compostable straws, let our friendly staff provide the guidance you need. 

Contact Servous today for wholesale plastic and compostable straws.

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