The most environmentally friendly option is offering no straws at all. If you are keen to have straws, here are some alternatives to single-use plastics:
Reusable straws are fun and economical. Materials include steel, glass, silicone and bamboo. Many bars use them for cocktail tasting. They are also great for selling or when used in a deposit system or a closed venue. A reusable straw is easy to carry with you to have it on hand when you need it.
PLA (polylactic acid) straws look just like regular plastic but are made of renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane. PLA production uses 65% less energy and generates 63% less greenhouse gases than conventional plastic. PLA will compost in industrial composting facilities with food waste but is not recommended for home composting. If PLA products end up in an incinerator instead, they do not emit toxic fumes like petroleum based plastics. PLA does not appear to compost in landfill.
Some paper straws are compostable. Avoid paper straws that are not labelled as compostable as they may contain petroleum based waxes and glues.
Other options include wheat straws, and edible straws.
Degradable plastic breaks down over a number of years resulting in small bits of plastic that do not compost. Degradable plastic cannot be recycled with conventional plastic due to its fragmentation over time.
Biodegradable materials break down by the action of living organisms. This may take a long time and result in toxic residues and tiny pieces of plastic.
Compostable materials break down within a short time period in industrial composting conditions without toxic residues. They can be disposed of with food waste. They also embed less carbon than conventional plastic. Compostable materials often meet the EN 13432 standard.
Purple Planet Supplies offers a wide range of catering disposables. All of their products are fully compostable. 10% discount if you take our Ocean Hero pledge.
Biopac supplies a range of disposables. Look out for products that are labelled as compostable.
Sugar & Lime is a Liverpool-based supplier working towards sourcing compostable straws.
Zenith Hygiene sells some compostable products. Look out for the word compostable in the product description.
Vegware is a manufacturer and a global specialist in compostable foodservice packaging.