Welcome to Sumkoka
 Tel/Whatsapp: +86-15058581581       Email: terry@sumkoka.com
Home / News / The Ultimate Guide to Disposable Straws

The Ultimate Guide to Disposable Straws

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2024-07-09      Origin: Site

facebook sharing button
twitter sharing button
line sharing button
wechat sharing button
linkedin sharing button
pinterest sharing button
whatsapp sharing button
sharethis sharing button

Did you know that Americans toss out millions of plastic straws every day? According to National Geographic and Our Last Straw, it leads to maritime pollution affecting wildlife and contaminates our food sources which poses serious health risks.

Remember the heartbreaking viral video from 2015? It showed a sea turtle struggling to breathe with a plastic straw stuck in its nose. As disturbing as it was for millions of viewers around the world, it led to a global outcry for eco-friendly disposable straws and other alternatives.

Crews remove plastic straws from a sea turtles nose.

It also led to various trends, such as “no plastic cutlery from restaurants” and plastic straw bans.  But somehow, sustainable progress in 2024 remains a challenge.

In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits, variety, and disposal methods for biodegradable straws. We’ll also cover the challenges and impacts of plastic straws detrimental to our environment.

Environmental Impact of Disposable Straws

Disposable drinking straws made from traditional plastics have adverse effects on the environment. While they don’t decompose naturally and contribute to landfill pollution, they can linger around for nearly 300 years, according to a report.

Let’s explore the additional challenges of plastic straws along with the benefits of replacing them with eco-friendly alternatives.

Negative Impacts of Traditional Plastic Straws

These straws contribute significantly to the environment, but not in a good way. They can affect the marine ecosystems and endanger wildlife. Their lightweight nature makes them easily transportable across natural habitats due to wind and water currents. Here's more:

●Marine Pollution

Statistics suggest that nearly 7.5 million straws pollute US coastlines. This poses a serious threat to marine life as seabirds, turtles, and other ocean animals can ingest straws by mistaking them for food. That can lead to internal injuries and death due to choking.

●Landfill Overgrowth

Disposable straws made from plastics or other non-biodegradable materials don't break down naturally. They can stay nearly intact within our environment for nearly 300 years or so. This leads to landfill proliferation as plastic waste takes up valuable space, making waste management even more challenging.

Landfills filled with plastic trash and plastic straws.

●Wildlife Endangerment

Did you know that over 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds die every year due to ocean plastic? Statistics indicate that an estimated 1 in 3 marine animals get tangled in plastic waste such as straws and debris. This can lead to injuries, impaired mobility, and infections.

Benefits of Eco-Friendly Alternatives

To counter the negative effects of plastic pollution, organizations and activist groups have developed eco-friendly alternatives. These typically include paper, sugarcane bagasse, and other biodegradable straws that can decompose naturally. Here are some additional benefits of eco-friendly straws:


Eco-friendly options like plant-based straws or compostable ones made from bamboo, polylactic acid (PLA), and paper are biodegradable. They break down into organic matter through natural decomposition which is non-toxic.

●Reduced Environmental Degradation

Manufacturing eco-friendly disposable straws involves processes with lower carbon emissions and energy consumption requirements. This reduces the dependence on fossil fuels that otherwise lead to high carbon emissions for plastic straw production.

●Wildlife Protection

Since biodegradable straws break down into natural substances, it doesn’t pose as serious a threat compared to plastic straws. Even if biodegradable straws enter the ocean, their short lifespan reduces the risk of ingestion and entanglement by marine (and terrestrial) animals.

Biodegradable straws reduce harm to wildlife.

Types of Disposable Straws

There’s a range of disposable straws available in the markets. Each type of disposable drinking straw offers unique benefits and is suitable for different uses. Learning the characteristics and qualities of different straw types can help you choose the right one to fulfill your needs sustainably.  

1.Plastic Straws

The most common types are plastic straws made from polystyrene and polypropylene. These are the least environmentally friendly options despite being extremely inexpensive. Since they are widely available, most fast-food chains and large event caterers turn to plastic straws for their cost-efficiency, disregarding their negative environmental effects.

2.PLA (Polylactic Acid) Straws

Next in line are biodegradable polylactic straws. Yes, we know how that sounds. But these are made from cornstarch and sugarcane. It is fairly easy to break them down into harmless substances under controlled composting conditions. PLA straws are best for eco-conscious businesses, restaurants, and consumers.

3.Bamboo Straws

Consumers and businesses aiming to reduce the overall waste go for bamboo straws. These are sustainable alternatives to plastic varieties. Plus, they are lightweight, durable, and reusable and can easily compost under set conditions.

bamboo straw

4.Paper Straws

Perhaps the most popular eco-friendly alternative in combating disposable plastic straws, paper straws are both biodegradable and fast-decomposing. They break down into organic matter easily to reduce the environmental impact of activities like fast-food consumption. However, the durability of paper straws varies significantly making them more suitable for some drinks than others.

5.Agave Straws

Made using agave plant fibers, agave straws are fully biodegradable and don’t pose a serious risk to marine ecosystems or animals. These plant-based straws decompose easily through controlled composting after use. They are sturdy and natural options for typical drinks like cold beverages and cocktails.

6.Sugarcane Straws

Another popular choice in plant-based straws is sugarcane. Made using sugarcane fiber (bagasse) these natural straws are durable, heat-resistant, and work well with both cold and hot beverages. These are natural and sustainable options coming from a renewable source like sugarcane, which reached worldwide production of nearly 2 billion metric tons in 2022.

bagasse straw

Benefits of Eco-Friendly Straws

Apart from biodegradability, eco-friendly straws offer additional benefits that align with global sustainability goals. These include:

●Utilization of Renewable Resources

Most eco-friendly biodegradable straws come from renewable resources, like sugarcane, agave, and sustainable paper materials.

●Reduced Landfill Growth

Biodegradable and compostable straws can help cut landfill overgrowth. Since they can decompose naturally and quickly, there is no need for additional landfill space for them.

●Improved Consumer Preferences

As more consumers become aware of environmental concerns, the demand for sustainable products like paper, sugarcane, and grass straws increases. This leads to demand-driven sustainability

Selecting the Right Straw Size

We understand that selecting the right straw size can be a challenge. On one side, you have to make sure that your employees, customers, or staff get the right drinking experience. On the other, you want to maintain practicality with the right size of straw for every beverage.

For instance, a disposable straw for a cocktail won't be functional for a Boba tea, or the other way around. Here’s a table that summarizes typical straw sizes and their uses:

Type of Drink

Straw Length

Straw Diameter

Suitable Uses

Boba Tea

8 – 10 inches

04 – 0.45 inches

Tapioca drinks, bubble tea


8 – 10 inches

0.3 – 0.35 inches

Milkshakes, smoothies, thick beverages


7 – 8 inches

0.2 – 0.25 inches

Water, juice, small mixed drinks

Iced Coffee

6 – 8 inches

0.3 – 0.35 inches

Iced coffee, cold brew


5 – 6 inches

0.2 0 0.25 inches

Garnished beverages, mixed drinks

Buyer Guide to Disposable Drinking Straws

So, you’re ready to become part of the global sustainability initiative and replace traditional plastic straws with eco-friendly options. Where do you begin? You start by considering several factors to make an informed buying decision.

In the table above, there was a range of eco-friendly disposable straws (excluding plastic straws), each with different dimensions and suitable uses. Here are a few additional factors you can consider:


You should calculate the total cost per unit of disposable straws. Buying in bulk can help you save more and offer valuable discounts. The long-term savings through enhanced brand reputation and reduced environmental impact outweigh the slightly higher initial costs.

2.Practical Applications

A paper straw that works for water/glass might not withstand thick smoothies or hot beverages. Therefore, you must make sure that your chosen straw is compatible with the desired drink consistency.

Choose disposable, eco-friendly straws that are compatible with beverages.

3.Durability and Functionality

You should also consider the structural integrity and durability of different straws based on specific use applications. Depending on the temperature and liquid resistance, some straws last longer than others.

4.Environmental Impact

You should prioritize eco-friendly options like plant-based straws and paper straws. These are excellent replacements for harmful plastic straws and don’t contribute to environmental degradation as such.

5.Regulatory Standards and Certifications

You should consider different industrial certifications to verify the compostability and biodegradability claims by straw manufacturers. Before purchasing, you must ensure that the chosen straws meet the criteria for sustainability.

6.Supplier Reliability

Lastly, choose a reputable and reliable supplier, like Sumkoka. A supplier that is known for its commitment to sustainability with extensive experience can help you reach your sustainability goals. Check whether the supplier adheres to ethical sourcing and production standards.

How to Dispose of Disposable Straws Properly?

Without proper disposal, biodegradable or compostable straws will be ineffective at minimizing the environmental impact. Here’s a simple guide to help you administer appropriate disposal methods:

Recycling – Disposable straws like PLA or paper straws are recyclable. Typical recycling guidelines require users to clean and dry the straws to prevent contamination.

Composting – Certain biodegradable straws like bamboo, PLA, and paper go through composting at industrial composting facilities. However, they might require optimal conditions for decomposition.

The process of composting disposable straws

(source: Amazon)

Incineration – Burning non-recyclable straws that aren’t biodegradable converts the waste into energy. While this reduces landfill volume, it leads to harmful gas emissions and poor air quality.

Landfill Disposal – A not-paper straw variety like plastic and non-biodegradable materials end up in landfills due to their inability to decompose naturally into organic matter. This is harmful to the environment and necessitates the switch to sustainable straw varieties.

Recyclable vs. Non-Recyclable Straws – Challenges and Considerations

Here’s a recap of the challenges associated with both recyclable and non-recyclable disposable straws:

Category of Straws

Challenges and Considerations

Recyclable Straws

Limited recycling facilities choose specific straws, such as plastics or biodegradable materials, for composting.

Regional variations in regulations might lead to a lack of necessary recycling infrastructure for certain types of straws.

Proper cleaning and drying are necessary for effective recycling and reducing the environmental impact.

Varying consumer awareness levels can impact recycling activities as they may choose the wrong disposal methods.

Non-Recyclable Straws

Non-biodegradable straws can remain in the environment for hundreds of years, leading to plastic pollution.

Harmful chemicals and substances from plastic straws can leach into the soil and water over time.

Non-recyclable straws end up in landfills due to a lack of natural decomposition characteristics, increasing environmental pollution.

Extensive promotion and awareness campaigns are crucial to shift consumer preference from plastic straws to biodegradable alternatives.

Future Trends in the Disposable Straws Industry

Evolving consumer demands and the global sustainability movement by NGOs are two primary factors behind emerging trends in the disposable straws industry. New materials, manufacturing techniques, and regulatory changes have emerged in the industry.

According to a CNBC report, consumer demand has led to the development of innovative plant-based straws made from seaweed. Other options include straws made from mushrooms. While abundant resources, these are highly biodegradable and have little to no negative impact on the environment.

Furthermore, consumer preference is shifting to eco-friendly alternatives for sustainable dining and fast-food consumption. A Harvard Business Review indicates that consumers' sustainability demands are rising. As a result, this is driving the adoption of sustainable practices and eco-conscious resource usage in businesses, like restaurants, retail, and more.

Compostable straws, plant-based straws

Moreover, Business Recorder also reported the rise of eco-friendly and “edible” straw options such as those made using seaweed. With the shift in consumer preference, businesses and industries have to adopt sustainable solutions to stay competitive.

In addition, governments around the world are increasingly raising awareness of plastic pollution. They are also imposing bans on single-use plastics through regulatory changes. According to National Geographic, Washington D.C. and Seattle are among the first few places to ban plastic straws.


1.Are Biodegradable Straws Better Than Plastic Straws?

Yes, biodegradable straws are better than plastic straws because they decompose naturally without manual intervention. They break down into organic matter to dissolve in the environment, unlike traditional plastic.

2.Can Paper Straws Hold Up in Hot Beverages?

The short answer is, yes. Depending on the quality and sturdiness of the paper straws, most can withstand liquids. This includes hot beverages like tea, coffee, and herbal drinks.

3.What Are the Alternatives to Disposable Straws?

Some of the alternatives to disposable straws include reusable straws made from silicone and metal. Others include plant-based straws that are compostable – and sometimes, even edible!

4.How Should Businesses Dispose of Leftover Disposable Straws?

The best way for businesses to dispose of leftover disposable drinking straws is to create separate dumping areas for recyclable and compostable straws. That way, each type of straw can go through suitable disposal according to local guidelines.


Choosing optimal eco-friendly alternatives to reduce the environmental impact of plastic straws is crucial to global sustainability. By reducing reliance on single-use plastic, you can protect maritime wildlife from oceanic pollution and ensure the safety of food sources for all of us.

Biodegradable disposable straws that are compostable through select disposal methods can help mitigate environmental degradation. Furthermore, ongoing research indicates the growing need for diversity in the biodegradable straws and cutlery market.

Meanwhile, Sumkoka may be a good place to start for your eco-friendly tableware needs. You can learn more about compostable straws and sugarcane bagasse tableware at Sumkoka to continue living sustainably.

Explore Sumkoka’s Eco-Friendly Disposable Straws!

Sumkoka is the trusted and reliable manufacturer of sugarcane bagasse tableware and cutlery. We are the top choice for eco-friendly disposable straws made from premium-grade organic and compostable raw materials.

With over 12 years of experience, our team ensures rigorous quality testing to meet consumer needs with a promise of guaranteed satisfaction. Learn more about the eco-impact of biodegradable straws made from paper and sugarcane bagasse at Sumkoka. Request a sample with customized prints today.

Let Sumkoka be your guide to sustainable practices. Contact Us Today!

Get A Free Quote

Please tell us your specific requirements(such as product, size, quantity, color, packaging, etc), we'll reply you as soon as we can.

Hefei Sumkoka Environmental Technology Co.,Ltd. was founded in 2012 and we are China professional manufacturer that produces disposable environmentally friendly bagasse tableware.

Quick Links

Product Category

Contact Information

 Tel/Whatsapp: +86-15058581581
 Wechat : Terry G(+86-15058581581)
 Whatsapp : +86-15058581581
 Address : 188, Qianshan Road, Shushan Dist., Hefei, Anhui, China(Mainland)
Copyright © 2024 Hefei Sumkoka Environmental Technology Co.,Ltd. All rights reserved. Sitemap