It is a hot summer day, and the scorching overhead sun makes you quickly look around for a roadside stall. You look at the packs in the visicooler and you order a refreshing cold lassi in a convenient paper-based carton. But as you pierce the opening and take a sip, your mind guiltily drifts to the plastic straw you just used.
Impact of plastic straws
Today, consumers and brands alike are well-aware of the potential for environmental pollution and damage that plastic straws pose, especially with the growing awareness around the impact of single-use plastic. Globally, more than 3 billion plastic straws are thrown away every day, with up to 78% of them never collected and recycled and not even finding their way to landfills, but instead, ending up in localities and water bodies.
Plastic waste in India
Closer home, India’s plastic waste generation has increased massively over the last few years, with the country generating a whopping 34 lakh tons of plastic waste in 2019-20! Keeping this growing threat in mind, the Central Pollution Board has announced a ban on the manufacture, sale, and use of several single-use plastic products including plates, cups, straws, trays, and polystyrene, from July 1st, 2022.
Consumers have also grown significantly more aware of the threat plastic straws pose to the environment, demanding biodegradable non-plastic alternatives. Paper straws have today emerged as one of the best available options for brands, offering a range of benefits while offering strong functionality.
Paper straws by SIG
SIG today offers a wide range of recyclable paper straws made from FSC certified paper. These straws are the perfect companions to SIG’s paper-based cartons, which are also made using renewable paper board.
SIG Paper Straws are available in straight I-Shape, U-shaped, and telescopic formats to appeal to the varied needs and preferences of brands and consumers. While the straws can be used for any and all SIG carton packs with straw holes, they are typically offered for smaller portion packs for convenient consumption. This includes the combiblocXSlim cartons, which are SIG’s bestselling packs in India.
SIG Paper straws have been designed to ensure a smooth drinking experience and there are even special straws with larger diameters offered for easy consumption of SIG’s value added drinksplus products, which contain particulates like fruit chunks, nata de coco, aloe vera strands, cereal, nuts, etc.
Key factors to be considered
One of the key factors during development was to ensure that the paper straws were strong enough to be used to pierce the closed straw holes on the cartons. The straws also need to retain their shape and functionality during prolonged periods of being emersed in liquid.
SIG has been working with various partners to develop an innovative alternative that is both robust and environmentally friendly, while not compromising on functionality and consumer experience. The result is a straw that retains its shape and does not get soggy even when it stays inside the liquid pack for a longer period and what’s more, the blister for the straws have also been redesigned to stay attached to the cartons, helping prevent littering!
Challenges and way ahead
The primary reason why the adoption of paper straws has been slow so far, is the significant cost difference between the existing plastic straws and paper straws. Brands offering products at key price points like Rs 10 or Rs 20, really struggle to absorb this added cost. As the economies of scale come in, the price difference is expected to significantly reduce, making it easier for brands to migrate to paper straws.
However, considering the upcoming ban on plastic straws from July 1, the time has come for brands and manufacturers to re-evaluate and re-adjust their budget and work out ways to accommodate the increased costs.
Keeping in line with SIG’s consistent efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and the impact on the environment, SIG paper straws offer the perfect alternative to single-use plastic straws, while also maintaining the convenience factor, for both brands and consumers!