Everyone knows that paper straws are a green solution, but can they be recycled once they’ve been used? It all depends on the type of straw, but recycling itself isn’t what makes paper straws green. Instead, paper straws have a variety of characteristics that make them greener and more environmentally-friendly. Here’s what you need to know.
Some Paper Straws Can Be Recycled
Firstly: some paper straws can be recycled. Paper straws that don’t have chemical additives, such as coatings or flavorings, are likely to be able to be recycled. However, many paper straws can’t be recycled, and that actually isn’t as important as it may seem.
Many of the environmentally dangerous issues regarding plastic straws don’t relate to whether they can be recycled, but rather the active danger they pose to the environment. Similar reasons are the driving force behind the ban on plastic bags in favor of paper bags. And, of course, since plastic straws cannot be recycled either, paper straws still have some very clear environmental benefits over them.
Paper Straws That Can’t Be Recycled Are Biodegradable
When a paper straw is thrown into a landfill, it will begin to degrade in a matter of days. When a plastic straw is thrown into a landfill, it can last decades. Consequently, it really isn’t an issue about whether or not the paper straw can be recycled; it’s more important that a paper straw will harmlessly break down when introduced to the environment.
Ideally, recycling is about reducing waste. Even if the materials of a paper straw aren’t being reused, they aren’t contributing to wasted space in a landfill or building up on ocean shores. Paper straws won’t amass inside of the ocean and won’t last decades after their use.
Plastic straws don’t just accumulate in the environment, but also pose dangers to wildlife. Wild animals may choke on plastic straws or may eat them and get them lodged in their digestive track. Paper straws don’t pose these dangers.
Used Paper Straws Are Compostable
Recycling really just means using something for a secondary purpose once its primary purpose has been fulfilled. While it’s true that paper straws mostly can’t go through the recycling process like other paper goods, it can be composed. When paper straws are composted, they can be “recycled”: they can be used to fertilize soil.
Many restaurants and hospitality venues are moving towards creating their own compost piles, as a way to stay green and grow sustainable goods on site. If you’re interested in recycling or reusing paper straws once they have been used, creating an in-house composting area may be the solution. In-house composting areas can also take advantage of other bio-waste such as egg shells and vegetable peels.
Paper straws are inarguably better for the environment than plastic straws, regardless of whether or not they can be recycled. Even paper straws that can’t be recycled are still biodegradeable and compostable. Further, they don’t require the same resources plastic does to manufacture. If you’re thinking about going green with your straws, take a look at the options available at FarfromBoring Hospitality.