Clutching at straws
Canadian PackagingSustainability Plastic Slush 2018 Stora Enso Sulapac
Stora Enso expects the renewable straws to be available commercially in the second quarter of 2019
With plastic drinking straws recently emerging as a serious contributor to the world’s growing marine pollution crisis, progressive companies like Stora Enso and Sulapac are quickly off to the races to develop an eco-friendly solution that will still allow consumers to enjoy the sheer convenience of this vitally handy utensil.
Demonstrated at the recent Slush 2018 global exhibition for technology startups in Helsinki, Finland, the new range of sustainable drinking straws are made from a specialty biocomposite material—comprising wood and natural binders—that can be recycled via industrial composting and will also biodegrade in marine environments.
In May of 2018, the two Finnish companies signed a joint development agreement that allows Stora Enso, one of Europe’s leading forest product groups, to license Sulapac’s innovative materials and technology, which drew highly positive feedback from over 20,000 visitors to Slush 2018.
“This is an important step for Stora Enso and it showcases our long-term commitment to gradually replacing fossil-based materials with renewable solutions,” says Annica Bresky, executive vice-president for the company’s Consumer Board Division.
“Our collaboration with Sulapac is a great example of what we can achieve through partnership in terms of driving innovation to create sustainable solutions within the bioeconomy,” states Bresky, noting the company is making plans to commence production of the renewable straws on industrial scale in the near future.
“Eco-awareness is a strong driver for consumer demand, and our customers want help in replacing non-renewable materials,” adds Hannu Kasurinen, senior vice-president for Stora Enso’s liquid packaging and carton board products.
“Different biocomposite solutions, such as renewable caps and closures and straws, will be add-ons and a complement to our own consumer board portfolio, while bringing additional value to our customers.”
Noting that Sulapac’s material works well with most existing extrusion lines, Kasurinen says Stora Enso expects the renewable straws to be available commercially in the second quarter of 2019.
“This straw has the potential to be a true game-changer,” says Sulapac’s founder and chief executive officer Suvi Haimi. “Being recyclable, microplastic-free and marine-biodegradable straw, this is the world’s most sustainable straw that can be produced on an industrial scale to provide an alternative to the billions of plastic straws are produced, used and discarded every week.”