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Best Alternative to Plastic Straws for Restaurants

Trying to make your business more environmentally friendly can be difficult. Switching to alternative straws is a great way to do this, but most available options do not hold up. Sugarcane straws are the perfect alternative to plastic straws for restaurants because they do not fall apart and are 100% biodegradable!
two people cheering their sugarcane straw drinks

And the Best Plastic Alternate Straw Is…

As the world is more aware and conscious of their impact on the environment, restaurants are looking for ways to remain competitive and relevant to consumer trends. More and more restaurants are switching out their plastic straws for other alternatives, such as paper straws. While these options seem great, they ruin your guest’s dining experience since they will fall apart by the end of your meal.

Luckily, more premium drinking straw alternatives are becoming available, with sugarcane straws being one of the best. To understand why restaurants are hopping on the sugarcane straw trend, you should understand each type of straw that is available and how they work.

plastic and paper straws found at the beach

Negatives of Paper Straws

Paper straws are one of the first environmentally friendly straws available to restaurants and other businesses. While the idea of these single-use straws sounds nice, they do not work well when customers use them.

Because these straws are paper, they quickly become soggy in customers’ drinks, which leads to them needing more than one (up to half a dozen times per customer for dine-in from some waitress feedback), negatively affecting your customer’s dining experience, and has a negative impression overall. Not only this, but they aren’t as environmentally friendly as they seem, as they come from trees (which help decarbonize the planet!), and they most likely don’t completely biodegrade due to extra coatings, decorative metallics,  and glues added to paper straws. This paper straw-making process is very energy-intensive due to:

  • Tree cutting. (Machinery uses fossil fuels.)
  • Delivering the wood
  • Milling to create the straws
  • Shipping of the final product
  • Paper is heavier than plastic, making the creation of paper straws more carbon-intensive

Negatives of Plastic Straws

You probably know by now that plastic straws are awful for the environment. This is because plastic straws are petroleum-based products. They never biodegrade completely, leaving them floating in oceans, littering areas with microplastics, and buried in the dirt forever. 

As of 2018, there were an estimated 7.5 million plastic straws on the shorelines of the United States. On top of this, Americans use around 500 million plastic straws per day. Many of which end up in landfills.

All these plastic straws hurt wildlife and sealife because many animals mistake straws for food. Oftentimes, ingesting plastic is fatal or causes serious injury.

Negatives of Reusable Bamboo Straws

Plant-based bamboo straws are a great idea in theory. Bamboo unlike paper does not get soggy. However, bamboo straws are hard to clean (need a pipe cleaner) and sometimes absorb whatever you’re drinking (both taste and colors) mixing flavors. 

Another issue that comes along with bamboo straws is the fact that it’s rather difficult to find them in different sizes. So, you would be supplying the same-sized straw no matter how large the glass is. 

Negatives of Pasta Straws

Pasta straws are not only inherently biodegradable, but they are also edible. While these qualities seem like it’s a holy grail material, pasta is another material that does not last in liquids. Most pasta straws contain water and a type of starch, such as wheat. This means that there may be some gluten sensitivities or can trigger allergic reactions based on the ingredients used.

Even though you aren’t putting the straw into boiling water, the pasta straw eventually becomes limp, leaving you with literally a wet noodle as a straw. After the pasta straw starts getting soft, you will also notice a starchy taste in your drink, which is a little off-putting.

Pasta straws are hard to find and very uncommon in the United States. If you want to try them, you will need to do some serious searching. They could be great for something like an Italian restaurant, but they are not very functional especially considering their fragility during transit.

Negatives of Reusable Metal Straws

Metal straws are a common product that many individuals own, so why can’t restaurants start using them too? They seem like great alternatives to single-use plastic straws. Well, metal is a heavy material, and processing metals is one of the most energy-intensive procedures in the metal industry. 

The United States uses less energy for metal ore processing, but it still requires 8,000 BTUs (British thermal units) per dollar. Keep in mind that most metals do not come from the United States, and the energy usage is much higher in other countries where the United States gets metal from.

Washing metal straws in masse is another challenge in itself. If the restaurant does not have the right equipment (often costly) then the cleanliness of the metal straw for reuse is questionable. This is not factoring in the additional water, soaps, and energy usage required to maintain these metal straws.

These reusable straws, like other reusable straws such as glass straws, are prohibitively expensive too. This means that not many restaurants can afford to buy them en masse, and using them does not work for all business types (especially ones that cater to quick service or fast food). It is also difficult to find different-sized straws. So, similar to the bamboo straws, customers would be using the same sized straws no matter how tall their glass is.

Benefits of Sugarcane Straws

Our patented sugarcane straws are 100% biodegradable and certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), among other organizations such as SGS for Food Safety and more. This ensures that the straws and their packaging are compostable. We are also offering PLA-free versions for stricter areas to ensure compliance with local ordinances or state laws.

Our straws are upcycled from what would be waste sent to landfills that comes from the sugar-making process. This means there is no harvesting of new materials to make these sugarcane straws since we divert those natural fibers from burn pits to create straws instead. These straws come from sugarcane plants, making them plant-based straws.

The best part is that these straws do not become soggy when in drinks! There is no need to worry about disintegration or a weird taste for the duration of your drink. You can even clean them and reuse them so they will last a long time, as long as you hand wash them. They are not dishwasher safe.

A bundle of sugarcane straws.

Negatives of Sugarcane Straws

If you are looking for this straw to give drinks a sweetener, they sadly do not taste sweet nor impart sweetness or sugars into your drink. This means you cannot use them to sweeten drinks.

If you are looking for colorful options, the sugarcane straws only come in one color currently. This color is sugarcane is a natural tan color. However, you can pick out some colorful packaging to make them more fun. If you are feeling the premium black color vibe, we do offer them for special cases, these are impregnated with charcoal powder to achieve that smooth matte black. We also have coffee ground straws which are a natural coffee color (dark brown) if you’re interested in that.

Although straw colors may be rather limited, there are plenty of customizations to choose from to fit your needs, such as:

  • Small, medium, large straws (boba straws), or you can get varying diameters (6, 8, 12mm)
  • Varying lengths ranging from 150 to 250 mm
  • Different cuts such as flat or angled
  • Plain white paper wrap or customized printing on white paper

With all the attention these sugarcane straws are getting, you can also expect it to be somewhat difficult to buy them off the shelves. Fortunately, we source directly from the manufacturer and have supplies in our warehouse.

Here is what we currently have available:

two people cheering their sugarcane straw drinks
Two people enjoy their drinks using biodegradable sugarcane cocktail straws.

What Others Are Saying

Many people are enjoying sugarcane straws, as they are saying some positive things! Most people are happy about the following:

  • The straws can be tall enough to fit tumblers
  • They do not get soggy or floppy
  • They are plastic-free and BPA-free
  • They do not stick to your lips
  • They do not have metallic tastes or off-putting residue

Order Samples Before You Commit

If you are contemplating buying sugarcane straws, but are not quite sure yet, you can order some samples. These samples should help you decide, and you can order them online (just pay for shipping). You just need to pay $9.99 for shipping and processing. Your samples will come right to your door! (contiguous USA)

Order Wholesale or Customized Sugarcane Straws

If you are interested, you can buy sugarcane straws wholesale or customized for your business. Get in touch through the wholesale page to find out more information. Our minimum order quantity is 300,000 straws.


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