On April 30, 2018, Switzerland-based packaging firm Tetra Pak announced its goal to launch a paper straw suitable for its single-serve carton packages by 2019.
The move is in response to growing concerns over plastic waste – especially due to single-use items like plastic straws. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that more than 500 million plastic straws are used every day, or an average of 1.6 straws per person per day.
Tetra Pak has been campaigning for its customers to push straws “back in the pack” so that they can be collected in the recycling stream with the rest of the packaging, but a move to paper straws is the company’s next step towards sustainability – according to Tetra Pak, the company has also been “informing consumers about responsible waste management and recycling, while also helping to create socio-economic value for communities through the use of recyclable materials.” By 2020, their goal is to reach a recycling rate of 40 percent.
However, developing a paper straw that is suitable for use on its portion-sized carton packages presents some challenges for producers. To be a viable substitute for plastic straws, Tetra Pak’s paper straws must be durable, safe and affordable.
On average, Tetra Pak’s packaging is made of about 75% paperboard. A switch to paper straws would help the company reach its ambitious long-term goal of creating all packaging material “from 100 percent renewable materials, without compromising safety, quality or functionality.”