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Hate Soggy Paper Straws But Feel Guilty About Plastic? Pasta Straws Are All The Rage

With South Australia introducing legislation to ban single-use plastics in 2020 and Queensland hoping to follow suit, now's the time to investigate straw options.

According to Clean Up Australia, Australians use about 10 million single-use plastic straws every day, which adds up to 3.5 billion a year. No wonder, then, that plastic straws are one of the most common items polluting the country's beaches and harming marine life.

Unlike a lot of hard plastics which can go into recycling bins, plastic straws cannot be recycled. They usually end up either in a landfill for years or contaminating oceans and waterways.

With a growing number of alternatives to plastic straws -- metal, paper, silicone, even glass -- pasta straws are the latest option to hit the market.

With SA introducing legislation to ban single-use plastics in 2020 and QLD hoping to follow suit, now's the time to investigate straw options. Image: Getty

While paper straws are a popular substitute, they still take 30-60 days to decompose and may contain harmful dyes, waxes, and glues.

Because they're made from food, eco-friendly pasta straws are biodegradable and can be composted after use rather than creating waste. They hold their strength and shape in cold drinks, plus they decompose virtually overnight after being discarded.

Pasta straws have only two ingredients -- wheat and water -- so they are completely safe for human and animal consumption if accidentally (or purposefully) consumed. But unfortunately, you can’t use them well with hot drinks, since warm liquid makes the pasta mushy.

Major brand names have vowed to phase out single-use plastic straws in Australia in the near future, with McDonalds committed to doing so next year.

Unlike a lot of hard plastics which can go into recycling bins, plastic straws cannot be recycled. Image: Getty

In a July 2018 statement, McDonald's Australia director of supply chain Robert Sexton said the company was dedicated to finding alternatives.

"We know plastic straws is a topic our customers are passionate about and we will find a viable solution," Sexton said.

"As one of the world's largest restaurant businesses, we know we have the responsibility and opportunity to make significant change."

Starbucks has also committed to eliminating plastic straws from all its stores within two years, citing the environmental threat to oceans.

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While getting rid of single-use plastics may be best for the environment, disability advocates have pushed back on bans as they say straws are a necessary, everyday tool for many people.

People With Disability Australia has said an outright ban would be "harmful."

"For people with disability who do need straws, asking them to bring their own, to wash and clean straws and to purchase straws creates further barriers in the way of people with disability having access to the community. It’s hard to participate in community activities if you can’t have a drink while doing this," their website reads.