Are Paper Straws Biodegradable?

Nowadays you’ll find many varieties of drinking straws across the world including plastic and bioplastic. Paper straws have become popular in recent times while businesses and consumers alike move away from plastic straws. However, it must be said that paper straws are not a new invention. In fact, the first drinking straws widely produced and used were made from paper. And, guess what, paper straws have been making a somewhat poetic comeback in the past few years!

So we thought we’d do a write up of some of our thoughts (and, of course, some facts) about paper straws. It’s important to do so as there’s many types of paper straws on the market which may look the same but actually are not. And while everyone automatically assumes that paper straws are biodegradable and compostable, this isn’t always the case.

So let’s start with the basics.

Paper straws made from three main materials:

  • Paper (well, yes, obviously)
  • Adhesive
  • Ink (unless it’s a plain white straw)

While paper is an extremely natural material (and predominantly made from wood but not always), the adhesive used to bond the paper together comes in various forms. Of course, paper doesn’t bind together by itself – it requires an adhesive. And that’s where some other paper straws will not meet the grade as they use cheap glues that are classed as toxic and not food safe. And, unfortunately, when we say “some”, we actually mean “many”. Cost is often a major factor in production and cutting costs by using cheaper materials is all too common.

To add a colourful design to a straw, whether it’s green or with a red stripe, requires printed ink. Again, there’s various types of ink in the world. Some are not suitable for food products and some contains chemicals that won’t meet sustainability standards and certifications.

Further to all the above, there are also some paper straws on the market that are coated with plastic which, personally speaking but I’m sure you will agree, is quite horrific. To make a paper straw that is pretending to be a natural paper straw then coat it with plastic to make it stronger is wrong on so many levels.

How do you know if your paper straws are safe and biodegradable? The only way to be sure of quality is through certifications and laboratory testing. We’re proud to say that our paper straws are certified as biodegradable and are one of the only straws in the world to hold the highly regarded OK Compost Soil Biodegradable certification from Vincotte. They’re also certified to the highest of food-contact standards.