Plastic straws have become a major environmental problem. And we live in a moment in the history of humanity where we are very concerned about the destiny of the planet. And those straws that we like so much are in the eye of the hurricane.
The reason is clear: straws represent a single-use resource, but whose useful life will persist over time. Plastic is always characterized by having that virtue. And unfortunately many of them will end up in nature and in our oceans. So for many, the option is the creation of paper straws.
For all those minds and people committed to the environment, this solution looks fantastic. However, it’s not a solution. Some companies like McDonald’s or Starbucks turned to the use of paper straws. But its usefulness has been called into question.
What happened with the McDonalds franchise
A year ago, McDonalds decided to eradicate plastic straws by those made of paper. For its customers, this was not a wise decision. And they were quite soft and influenced the taste due to the breakdown that occurs in cellulose.
Despite the consumer complaint, McDonalds decided to continue manufacturing paper straws, but more robust ones. But, this solution was not optimal, because given its robustness, there is no possibility of recycling. Something similar happened also with the fast food chain, Subway.
Subway customers experienced the same disappointment in perceiving how paper straws modified the taste of drinks. It is important to remember that until the mid-sixties, straws used to be made of rye fibers and various organic materials.
They are not so biodegradable
The tendency of the use of the plastic happened by the fact of being more economic and simple for an industry, that at that time needed solutions on a large scale. Then, the modification of the plastic straws, was associated with discrimination.The plastic, being flexible, allows the straws to bend easily, which facilitated its use in people with disabilities or mobility problems. This advantage is lost with the use of paper straws that are too robust and not very flexible.
On the other hand it is strongly argued that paper straws are not as biodegradable as they are usually defined. This is because a good part of these are developed with high volumes of cellulose pulp. This is for it to detract from the conductive properties of the paper, which is what allows it to extend its life time.
What if we eliminate the desire to drink with straws?
Like plastic straws, paper straws are single-use, so their manufacture directly affects deforestation. So it’s an option, let’s say little or not smart.
The other fact to keep in mind is that the plastic used in the straws does not represent a large-scale phenomenon. For example, the one implemented in the United States is equivalent to 0.025% of the annual consumption that is given to plastic in that country. It is a serious problem, yes, but not as urgent as the use that is being given to plastic in other scenarios.
For some environmental experts, the problem lies in questioning whether we really need the straws to define our lifestyle and our pleasure of enjoying drinks. Most of the drinks that exist can be consumed directly from the glass, with the exception of other products such as frappuccinos, whose consistency requires the use of a straw.
So if the perspective is changed and the supply of straws is radically eliminated, reducing the impact of this resource would be drastically minimized