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A Paper Straw with Benefits

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Plastic straws cause ecological problems. Paper straws are ecologically friendly but too expensive and maybe not that good.

  1. Plastic straws are manufactured with an output of 1,400 pcs per minute (on this type of production line) whereas paper straws are manufactured with an output of 200 pcs per minute (on this line). Plastic straws are cheaper than paper straws.
  2. Paper straws are functionally flawed. states it like this : "You've been there: your super adorable paper straw looks cute in your drink initially but it slowly becomes gummy as you suck on it, and starts falling apart, distorting the drink's flavor. Gross.". Plastic straws do their job better than paper straws.
  3. Paper straws decompose within weeks, plastic straws do not decompose within a human life-time.
  4. Pulp-clay materials (e.g. from FreeFormPack) are starting to become commercially available. Such materials are water tight but decompose within five weeks.
  5. Carlsberg Brewery will launch a beer bottle made of a pulp-clay compound from EcoXPac in 2018. A sign that the technology is reaching technological readiness for commercial use.
  6. In 2007 in Japan the cigarette industry introduced flavor capsules (e.g. with menthol) in cigarette filters: Consumers may crush a liquid-filled capsule that flavors the cigarette smoke. The product is banned in many countries - the flavour capsulte technology is not dangerous in itself but it promotes smoking which is. 
  7. It is technically possible (see e.g. SWRI) to microencapsulate vitamins, flavors and aromas and release them when exposed to e.g. water, heat or friction.
  8. It is technically possible to add plant seeds to pulp and wood (Sprout makes pencils with seeds).

Make a new and superior paper straw with unique features!

Make the FlavorStraw by:

  • Using the emerging pulp-clay materials in order to make the straw robust. 
  • Using the existing paper straw production lines in order to reduce the required investments.
  • Adding micro encapsulated aromas in the layer of paper facing the inside of the straw so e.g. water can be flavored when using the straw (just release the aromas by rolling the straw between your hands before using it).
  • Adding micro encapsulated vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) so that any liquid passing inside the straw is enriched with "good stuff". 
  • Adding seeds to the straw (via the pulp) so that a new aroma-carrying plant can grow if the straw is accidentally dropped in nature.

FlavorStraw looks like a normal straw, feel like a normal straw and works like a normal straw. But it is so much more!

A FlavorStraw will for sure be much more expensive than a conventional plastic straw. However, it will also add more value: 

  • Initially: Choose the FlavorStraw (and feel good about it!) knowing that it will never end up in the nostrils of a turtle!
  • Short term: Enjoy the aromas extracted from the straw.
  • Long term: Enjoy seeing the seed evolve into a plant.

An improved paper straw without the added short and long term benefits will only be seen as a more expensive solution compared to plastic straws. Such a paper straw will never get traction on its own. 

The cigarette industry has successfully demonstrated that it is possible to add flavor (and thus value) to an existing product.

We also want the world to become hooked - on FlavorStraws!

Idea Title

FlavorStraw. Do Nature a Favor: Use a Straw with Flavor!

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

The use of plastic straws.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Everywhere where plastic straws are used.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

The classic way to introduce the idea would be via from some of the big chains providing straws to their customers as part of their service offering. Probably in cooperation (read: sponsorship) with the suppliers of beverages (logos can easily be printed on the Flavor Straw).

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Becoming a Top Idea would be the coolest thing in the world! We know some companies that can microencapsulate almost any substance (from lab-scale to industrial volumes)! We also know companies making pulp-clay compounds and paper thereof (and can embed the microencapsulated vitamins and flavors). We don't yet know any company with a paper straw manufacturing line but these are easily googled. You get further with money and kind words than with kind words alone! We would test every combination!

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

We were brainstorming about the plastic straw challenge.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Soren & Hans !

We have received your Refinement Phase Submission Questions! Just a friendly reminder that the Phase closes tonight, August 31st at 11:30 p.m. PT. so please update your contribution on the platform before the deadline.

Thank you for all your work this Refinement Phase and for being member of the OpenIDEO Community!

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