There have been constant debates across the world around the use of plastics in our daily life. The recent trend of Paper Drinking Straws comes from another trend – a trending rise in the number of cautious consumers in the market who are cognizant of the depleting environment.On the other hand, a supporting trend is the rise of so-called ethical consumers, who are ready to pay more for products that meet their ethical standards. Together, these trends have led to a push against single use plastics including disposable plastic straws. Countries like India have taken a big step resulting in bans on Plastic Straws, thus triggering the need for transition to Paper Made Drinking Straws manifolds.
So let’s take a closer look at the experience plastic straws have yielded since ever, and what will the transition to paper straws bring for brands, consumers and the environment.
Plastic Straws are familiar among the masses for the experience they deliver. However, its manufacturing process involves use of fossil fuels such as Polypropylene – a petroleum by product that adds complexities to the recycling of plastic straws, making it a cumbersome task. Another challenge that makes the path difficult for plastic straws is the non-availability of adequate infrastructure and that they are mistakenly considered as a thin, lean and small piece of plastic and as a result are throws away callously after consumption of beverages. It is alarming to state that if these little plastic straws fail to reach the recycling process or if they reach waterbeds, they will not just pollute the natural resources, but can also turn out to be the cause of death for many aquatic species.
The environment factors around plastic straws may not seem to be promising, but the infrastructure and cost of producing plastic straws has never been a challenge for brands and packaging converters. It is interesting to know that the production of plastic straws require less energy, less water among others that helps brands control the cost of final product.
Though it is easy to talk about Paper Straws as a successful replacement to Plastic Straws. However, what happens when we look specifically at paper straws vs plastic straws? And then the question arises, whether paper straws are really a viable alternative to plastic straws?
In the tug of war between paper and plastic straws, paper straws have emerged to be more environment-friendly as compared to plastic straws. With the advent of reforms against single use plastics, paper straws are becoming the need of the hour as beverage brands are turning towards adoption of paper straws to meet the redefined compliance while simultaneously enhancing their sustainable footprint. However, paper straws are considered to be an under performer as they tend to become soggy and limp after some time ultimately tarnishing the entire sipping experience.
Today, Paper straws are generally made of 3ply structure that outperforms the limitations of single ply structure. The paper and adhesive used in the manufacturing of paper straw is food grade which makes it a worthwhile drinking experience. Talking about its post-consumption fate, the 3ply paper straws today are easy to recycle, however, the need for improved infrastructure is still required. Another important aspect of paper straws is its decomposition, while the plastic straws take upto 200 years to decompose, paper straws decompose in 2 months on landfills and 6 months if they come in contact with saltwater.
While the world talks mostly about the post-consumption impact and recyclability of Paper straws over Plastic straws, however one serious concern that eclipsesis the environmental impact of paper straws. It must be noted that paper straws require a lot of energy during the manufacturing process which releases greenhouse gases. Another factor that pulls paper straws down is its cost of production which way higher than plastic straws.
With the ban on single use plastics coming into force in India, brands are taking long strides to turn to packaging manufacturers to avail paper straws for their products. As a leader in Flexible Packaging, the Aseptic Liquid Packaging business of UFlex, ‘ASEPTO’ is setting up India’s first and world’s fastest paper straw manufacturing line at its Aseptic Liquid Packaging facility in Sanand. Understanding the growing demand of paper straws, UFlex will be deploying Dutch technology based machinery to develop paper straws made with food-grade paper and adhesive. These straws will have moisture resistant properties and will offer 100% recyclability. With this development, UFlex,will be able to meet the demand of Paper Based Straws of key beverage, pharmaceutical and dairy brands in times to come.