The Phade disposable "eco-straw" is the first commercial product we've seen made from Danimer Scientific's canola-oil-derived bioplastic. Manufactured by Georgia-based WinCup, a purveyor of disposable utensils, cups, bowls and containers, the Phade drinking straw is "a realistic and promising step" towards sustainability for the company, says WinCup President of Food Service Michael Winters.
Unlike paper straws, which have disappointed some consumers, the Phade straws appear identical to the environmentally-unfriendly polypropylene incumbent, and their performance is "very similar" to them; but unlike polypropylene, Phade straws are biodegradable in both the ocean and on land.
However, while the material it's made from, Danimer Scientific's Nodax PHA, "will completely degrade in any environment without leaving behind microplastics," we spotted the following fine print on Phade's website: "Degrades 88.1% in a marine environment in 97 days per ASTM D6691 (and may or may not further degrade)." We'd like some further clarity on that; does that mean that after 97 days there's a straw-like remnant, 11.9% the size of the original, that a turtle might choke on? For that matter, what's to say a turtle wouldn't choke on the full-size straw when it's been in the water for only a day? That issue certainly needs addressing.
Whether or not that reckoning will ever arrive, the Bioplastics Division of the Plastics Industry Association has named Danimer and WinCup the joint winners of their 2020 Innovation in Bioplastics Award. The organization defined Phade as "the first commercially sold straws made of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), a material verified as a reliable biodegradable alternative to traditional plastic."
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I guess we'll have to live with baby steps for now, and at least take solace that manufacturer/consumer behavior is changing for the better. "Customer and Market reactions to this innovative and relevant new product launch have been extremely positive," says Winters, "and we expect very high demand for Phade in the coming months."