In 2018, Europe agreed to ban eight families of single-use plastic products, including single-use plastic straws by 2021. Many fast foods have turned to alternative solutions such as biodegradable plastic or paper straws.
But are these alternatives really sustainable? Are they better for consumers?
At Happy Turtle Straw, we’re convinced that this isn’t the case, and that we can offer a better, more sustainable alternative for fast food consumers. Here’s why!
What alternatives have fast-food chains chosen?
Starbucks has put an end to straws by creating a goblet with a Polypropylene lid featuring a teardrop-shaped opening.
However, this new lid doesn’t seem to be any better for the environment. Indeed, when comparing the weight of the lids, this new lid with a spout is heavier than the previous one with the straw in the lid. This suggests that even more plastic is used, which Starbucks does not deny.
For Starbucks, while the amount of plastic used is greater, the environmental solution lies in the composition of the plastic, polypropylene, which claimed on their Twitter account is “a commonly-accepted recyclable plastic that can be captured in recycling infrastructure, unlike straws which are too small and lightweight to be captured in modern recycling equipment.”
While this statement is true, only 9% of plastics are recycled, and if they are, they require special machinery that not all factories have, and they become non-recyclable if they have been contaminated…
Another alternative, particularly in Europe, is paper straws, which have been found in Switzerland. But, these paper straws are not appreciated. They quickly become soggy in drinks, giving consumers an unpleasant taste and feel.
“At first I thought I could get over the slightly unpleasant taste for the sake of the environment”, says Courtney Campbell in her article on Reviewed.
McDonald’s has also swapped plastic straws for paper ones. However, paper absorbs liquid and the paper straws are then too thick to be recycled. If they can’t be recycled, they’re thrown away with the rest of the garbage and inserted.
Here again, these paper straws are criticized.
‘I wouldn’t say I hate the paper straws. I just don’t think they are comfortable to drink out of and they go soft and gross after a while,’ Jayce Cunning said, a BMX Pro.
Other consumers also voiced their dissatisfaction on social networks.
“The paper straws collapse before your halfway through the drink” (David Leather, a consumer on Twitter)
Petitions against paper straws
A petition was even launched in 2019 (and is still gathering signatures in 2023), to return to plastic straws and therefore do away with paper straws, which are not pleasant to use and quickly become soggy in drinks.
Dunkin’ Donuts has decided to use biodegradable plastic straws to replace traditional plastic straws.
However, the plastic used, PHA, only degrades after several months in the marine environment, which is not without danger for marine fauna (remember the turtle with a straw stuck in its nose).
What’s more, they’re not easy to recycle, as they require the presence of special machinery in recycling plants, which is mostly not the case. And when these plastics are contaminated, i.e. mixed with other plastics, they can no longer be recycled.
And Burger King is no exception.
What we propose with The Happy Turtle Straws:
A lot of people are disappointed by paper straws and PLA does not offer a sustainable solution. That’s why we think our straws are the best alternative to paper and PLA straws.
Straws from The Happy Turtle Straw are the ideal solution for combining a satisfying drinking experience with the preservation of nature, oceans and marine life.
Indeed, our straws are produced from rice and cassava. They are therefore 100% compostable, biodegradable and edible for consumers and animals living in the oceans.
For the consumer, they are pleasant to use as they leave no taste in the drink and last for 2 hours in beverages. What’s more, they’re vegan and gluten-free!