PLA Straws Are Showing up, Are They Really Environmental Friendly?

    Human’s development always follows the changes of environment and conditions that are pushed by the history. In seeking for development, we innovated plastic. However, when we shifted to pursuit sustainability, finding alternatives to replace plastics becomes an urgent for the F&B industry.

    On 28 May 2021, Deputy Prime Minister Abramchenko of the Russian Federation announced that the Russian Government was amending legislation to prohibit non-recyclable plastic materials in Russia. The ban will cover plastic materials that are particularly difficult or impossible to recycle, such as disposable cutlery, cotton swabs, plastic straws, colored plastics and other similar materials. Therefore, it is urgent to find a viable alternative.


    Is it really environmental friendly? PLA material become the top choice of many businesses.  

    Due to the fully implementation of the “plastic ban” in the world, PLA material has been favored by capital and experts in the catering market. It has become the top choice of many enterprises and take a large market share. Meanwhile, some enterprises have set ambitious targets of PLA’s production capacity. They aim to produce PLA 10 million tons in 5 years and 25 million tons in 10 years. But whether the PLA material can really meet standard of environmental protection and conditions, it remains to be debated.


    What exactly is PLA (Poly-lactic Acid)?

    It is a type of polyester polymer obtained by the polymerization of lactic acid that used as the main raw material. It is also a new biodegradable material. It is generally made from starch extracted from renewable plant resources such as corn and cassava.

    Then is PLA really degradable?

    In fact, there are preconditions for PLA degradation. PLA can degrade quickly in the high temperature environment where existing abundant microorganisms. Then it will enter into the soil. After 6 months, signs of PLA degradation occurs until it is completely returned to nature.

    However, at room temperature, PLA degradation takes longer time. And this is only for products with 100% PLA ingredients.

    What if the product is not with 100%PLA raw material? It will be more difficult to degrade. Because the products with real pure PLA raw material do not have good temperature resistance, some PLA products add in some other non-degradable chemical substances to improve the performance. Therefore, such products is more difficult to degrade. As a result, the effect of PLA straws on environmental protection is not answered and we should have doubts about it.

    Be truly environmental friendly, paper straw is the choice.

    Without a doubt, paper straws are the best solution.

    Compared with plastic straws or PLA straws, paper straws show their outstanding values in environmental protection from the raw materials. Using raw paper as the main material, the paper straws get degraded within 3 or 4 months after being discarded in the natural environment. It can not only be recycled to achieve complete degradation and reduce white pollution, but also meet the requirements of national health indicators, and make people feel more at ease in food safety. Therefore, it has become a popular choice in the market.


    Although there is still a lot of room to improve the user experience, with the continuous progress and optimization of technology, it will achieve a good balance between environmental protection and user experience.