Sugarcane drinking straws - sip with a clear conscience!

Posted on 02 April 2019.

All over the world single-use plastics are being withdrawn. In Taiwan, where conventional plastic straws will shortly be banned, a start-up has designed a circular alternative: bio-sourced, reusable and biodegradable sugarcane fiber straws.

From July 1st, 2019, Taiwan will gradually introduce a ban on single-use plastic straws. The government’s aim is to fight ocean pollution. Regulations of this kind banning single-use plastics - from shopping bags to disposable cups - are popping up all over the world.

And obviously the alternatives are too - especially when the bans shake up habits that are well anchored in everyday life. And in Taiwan, "bubble tea", a fragrant blend of tea, milk and tapioca pearls sucked through an extra-wide straw, is an institution!

Fortunately, young people in Taiwan will continue to enjoy their "pearl tea" thanks to Huang Chien-chung. The entrepreneur working at the Central Taiwan Innovation Campus research center has developed an ecological alternative to single-use plastic straws.

Made from sugarcane fiber and PLA (polylactic acid) - a completely biodegradable plant-based plastic material - Huang Chien-chung’s straws are bio-sourced, as well as being reusable and biodegradable: they break down in the soil in only six months.

The young man founded his start-up, named 100% Plastic Free, and began production of the first batch of straws in July 2018.


Beyond sugarcane

Huang Chien-chung's start-up is not only about sugarcane. It is also exploring the possibilities offered by other materials, such as coffee grounds and bamboo, to create new products that will recycle agricultural waste and so contribute to the circular economy.

Huang Chien-chung has said he is working with a French wine company to develop products made from grape waste and wheat fiber.

The technology used to produce the sugarcane straws has attracted the interest of a large number of Chinese companies. And recently Huang Chien-chung's invention was recognized at the Concours Lépine Méditerranéen Montpellier 2018 where it won the Lépine Concours “Prix du President”.