Our environment affects us all. Here are some interesting facts about plastic, waste, disposable straws, reusable straws, and of course SLIDERSTRAW, the world’s first smart reusable drinking straw.
WHY ARE THERE PLASTIC SLIDERSTRAWS?
Good question! Plastic in and of itself is not the problem. Rather, the issue lies in the misuse of plastic in the form of masses of disposable products. Large quantities of global plastic waste consist of heedlessly discarded disposable products, which are polluting our planet in huge numbers. The “bad plastic” cliché falls short of the mark. As a material, plastic has specific physical properties that cannot be equalled for numerous applications. Banning the use of plastic in generally will inevitably usher in the use of alternatives that are much worse for the environment overall. This is a form of dogma.
When used widely, plastic can actually be extremely sustainable. For example: plastic shopping bags are a major problem if these are thrown away after just one use. However, if you use reusable plastic carrier bags, these are better for the environment than reusable cotton bags. This is due to the huge quantities of water and energy consumed in growing and processing the cotton.
The plastic version of SLIDERSTRAW was developed and designed for areas of application where a stainless steel variant would be unsuitable, such as events, stadiums and fast food chains.
IS PLASTIC RECYCLING AN ALTERNATIVE?
In principle, recycling valuable raw materials is a great idea. However, global recycling rates have long been not nearly as high as anticipated. In Europe, around 30% of plastic is recycled, while this figure is 25% in China and just 9% in the USA. Furthermore, large amounts of energy are used for recycling. In Germany, only 35% of common household plastic waste is really recycled**. Since the processing of single-variety waste is a time-consuming task, the composite material derived from recycling plastics is often only used to produce “simple” plastics such as park benches or planters. A large part of the plastic waste is burned – which, while it does produce energy, also causes harmful emissions. To quote Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of NGO “Zero Waste Europe”: “We can’t recycle our way out of plastic pollution”***. Thus, preventing plastic waste is the most efficient (and cost-effective) way to protect our environment in the long term.
* CareElite Community, Statistik „Plastik Müll“,(www.careelite.de) ** NABU Naturschutzbund e.V., Artikel „Parkbänke im Überfluss“ (www.NABU.de) *** Zeit, Artikel „Gibt’s den auch in Stroh?“, (www.zeit.de)
BUT HAVEN’T WE HAD BIOPLASTIC FOR AGES?
True! But these supposed alternatives have numerous disadvantages. Bio-based plastics are only partially composed of renewable raw materials. This may include 50% proportions of cane sugar, maize or potatoes. Using these foods to produce plastic should be seen as highly problematic from an ethical perspective (after all, so many people in our world are undernourished). Large quantities of fertiliser and fuels (diesel for tractors) are often used to cultivate these crops, which makes the environmental footprint of bioplastic substantially worse. In addition, the other 50% of the bio-based plastic may continue to be mixed with microparticles or even mineral oils. Even plastics that are said to be biodegradable are not half as clean as we assume they are. In theory, it is possible to break them down, but in practice, this often presents major problems*.
* DUH Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V., Umfrage „Kompostieranlagen“, (www.duh.de)
WILL PLASTIC SOON HAVE HAD ITS DAY AS A MATERIAL?
It is not about banning plastic entirely from our everyday lives. Indeed, this would not even be possible. Plastic offers excellent properties for many applications. It is very malleable, especially light and very difficult to break when used correctly. Plastic is used in trainers, insulating materials, windows and electronic devices as well as in pacemakers, artificial hip joints and prosthetic arms. The largest problem with regard to plastic is its inflationary use for disposable products. This is why intelligent reusable plastic products could also lead to a turning point: the appropriate use of plastic for products used in the long term prevents waste, saves valuable resources and avoids harmful emissions.
WHAT BENEFIT WILL THE EU BAN ON DISPOSABLE PLASTIC DRINKING STRAWS BRING?
Much more than seems likely at first glance. If we look at the consumption of straws made from single-use plastic in the EU to date, there is enormous potential. Nevertheless, around 36.4 billion* single-use drinking straws were used in the European Union alone in the year 2017. The EU ban will therefore lead to considerable savings in terms of plastic waste – provided, of course, that we do not produce new waste in the form of new disposable drinking straws and thereby simply relocate the waste issue rather than fighting it in the long term.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS WITH THE NEW DISPOSABLE ALTERNATIVES?
The main goal of the EU ban on single-use plastic was to prevent unnecessary waste. Although the new alternative disposable drinking straws are no longer made from plastic, they still generate new waste. As a result, disposable straws made from paper or bamboo are unfortunately not as sustainable as we would like. There are also some very well-designed disposable drinking straws made from edible materials, such as pasta dough or grain mixes: Environmental footprints show that these edible drinking straws actually have more negative effects on the environment than crude oil-based plastic straws because of the energy-intensive processing used to manufacture them.
These edible drinking straws are therefore more harmful to the environment than conventional plastic straws – and not everyone likes how they taste. Many people just want to enjoy their drink, and not their straw. In addition, many of these single-use drinking straws tend to soften and do not have a neutral taste.
SO REUSABLE DRINKING STRAWS ARE BEST – BUT WHICH ONE?
Cleaning is the Achilles’ heel of all reusable drinking straws currently on the market. The opening of a straw (whether it is made of glass or metal) is simply too small to allow all residue to be removed completely from the interior. It is impossible to be sure you have removed all residue from the inside of conventional reusable drinking straws, whether you wash them in the dishwasher or rinse them thoroughly under the tap. Remnants of sugary cocktails, milkshakes or smoothies form the ideal breeding ground for bacteria inside the straws. Laborious brushing is not a long-term solution.
This is where the SLIDERSTRAW concept comes in: the smart reusable drinking straw can be opened for convenient, complete cleaning, leaving no residue.
I WANT TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SLIDERSTRAW! WHERE CAN I BUY IT?
We’re glad we have piqued your interest! You can order your smart reusable drinking straw conveniently online via our SLIDERSTRAW shop. We offer several different models: Classic, Steel and Silicone. Of course, each of them operates on the basis of the unique SLIDERSTRAW principle: simply divide into two halves, clean thoroughly and enjoy again and again. You can also find our product in selected restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels. Please recommend SLIDERSTRAW to your friends – we can achieve a lot together!
If you are a restaurant owner and are interested in receiving an individual SLIDERSTRAW Gastro Package, we would love to hear from you by email or phone! Would you like to purchase a larger quantity of SLIDERSTRAWS? Get in touch with us and we will provide you with a tailored business customer offer.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO REDUCE PLASTIC WASTE?
There’s a lot you can do! Explaining everything you can do would go beyond the scope of this website. However, preventing waste is clearly the top priority. The best waste is the waste that never materialises! The German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union recommends that consumers buy long-life products, opt for plastic-free packaging and avoid buying cosmetics that contain harmful microplastics (see www.beatthemicrobead.org for further details). Choosing clothing made from natural fibres ensures that no microplastics enter the waste water during washing (a standard synthetic garment loses around 1,900 fibres per wash*). Don’t forget: conscious use of cars can also reduce pollutants, since tyre abrasion also produces microplastic emissions.