Korean scientists create waterproof paper straws that don’t turn soggy

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

While most of us support the plastic-free straw initiative, the most popular alternative – paper straws – aren’t quite cutting it. Some people complain they can affect the taste of any beverage that passes through them – and all too often they turn into mush within minutes. 

While we can choose to go straw-less there are certain beverages that still require it. Furthermore, many people with certain disabilities and special needs rely on straws to consume food and beverages for hydration and nutrition, as well as to join in social and recreational activities.

Good news! Breakthrough research in South Korea has found a solution – a paper straw that’s both biodegradable and water-resistant. 

Scientists from the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology and Sogang University synthesised a biodegradable plastic, polybutylene succinate (PBS). They added a small amount of cellulose nanocrystal to create a new coating for the paper straw.

Using the new nanocrystal coating, the paper straws do not get soggy and do not generate many bubbles when used with carbonated drinks.

Compared to existing paper straws that are easily bent, the new straws – when dipped in cold water (5 degrees Celsius) for one minute and pressed with 25g weights – did not bend, even when pressed further by in excess of 50g.

The scientists also reported that the new straws biodegraded after 60 days in seawater.

If this innovation can be manufactured in volume it looks like we won’t have to endure soggy straws anymore.

Further reading: Equo founder explains her mission to change consumer habits through sustainable products.

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.


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