If you haven’t heard yet, you might want to jump on this new restaurant trend fast. Well, it’s not quite a trend yet but it’s right at the tipping point. There is a movement to ban plastic straws and replace them with sustainable alternatives.
Don’t believe us? Then consider the fact that Starbucks announced plans to eliminate plastic straws by 2020 and that McDonald’s has already started mobilizing plastic straw alternatives in Europe. Then there is the State of Seattle, which jumped ahead of all of us by banning plastic straws back in July 2018!
As you may know, many restaurant trends involve going green such as using biodegradable packaging. It’s become so widespread that almost any restaurant you visit today will have an eco-friendly take-out box. Just like this, plastic straw alternatives are the next to take over the restaurant industry.
Which Plastic Straw Alternative is Best For Your Restaurant?
It takes a whopping 200 years for plastic straws to decompose and 500 million are thrown out daily. That’s a gazillion straws in the ocean over two lifespans.
Whether you care for the environment or not, eco-friendly alternatives are a trend and adjusting to them can help you win over customers. In addition, these alternatives are reusable and can help you actually save on costs.
So which is the most cost-efficient plastic straw alternative? Let’s take a look.
Paper straws are a relatively cheap alternative to plastic straws that are quite high in supply. They are great for the environment for their fast decomposition time in the ocean of 2-6 weeks and won’t harm wildlife if ingested.
What about on the business side of things? Well, just like the great contradiction of saving the environment by taking from forests, it’s not so brilliant.
The straws actually get a little soggy and alter the taste of your customer’s drink. For this reason, restaurants that use paper straws usually provide multiple straws for one drink. So although paper straws are cheap, they can add up to a more costly option for you and the change in taste can give customers a bad experience.
The idea of bamboo straws is undoubtly cool and can really add to the aesthetic of an Asian Fusion or Tiki-themed restaurant. In addition to their cool look they are reusable unlike the paper straws.
Being naturally grown and free of preservatives they also offer many attractive natural benefits. These benefits include being naturally anti-microbrial and highly resistant to rotting.
The strength and durability of bamboo also make it great for use with hot beverages. All-in-all they will save you money because they are cheaper than most alternatives and you can reuse them for a long time.
While they do have many great natural benefits, it may not actually be the right fit for your restaurant. Bamboo straws can actually absorb drinks and alter taste. It can even absorb saliva which would pose a health risk. Also, due to having a smaller hole, it is not ideal for thicker drinks like smoothies. So if you serve mostly water and can dedicate time to clean the straws effectively, it might just work out for you.
Unlike bamboo straws, pasta straws don’t alter the taste and they are more durable than paper straws because they hold their shape up to 3 hours. Their make up of wheat and water make it an ideal alternative for eco-conscious restaurant goers for it’s 100% biodegradability.
The issue with pasta straws however, is that it could be a health risk for those who are allergic to gluten. This makes it an alternative that can’t be catered to every guest and therefore isn’t the most efficient for your budget. And even though 1 pasta straw lasts as long as 3-5 paper straws, it is still a 1-time use alternative.
So even though it may be a better alternative for the environment, it isn’t outstanding for the bank. The goal is to find the plastic straw alternative that hits the sweet spot of benefiting both the green in the world and in your wallet.
Glass straws are perhaps the most versatile of them all. They can be made with various colors and withstand both hot and cold beverage temperatures. They also don’t alter taste like paper and bamboo straws do.
All in all, they are a pretty good cost-efficient plastic straw alternative that can save you a lot of money because of their re-usability and easy cleaning. The only real big disadvantage is that, well, they are glass and still breakable. If your kitchen is careful enough, the glass straws may be a great long-term investment.
There are metal butter knives, forks, spoons, and cups so why couldn’t metal straws be a norm? Obviously the strongest of all the straws mentioned in this post, metal straws are reusable and if needed to be disposed of, the most recycle-friendly.
Metal straws do have some drawbacks however. They are very sensitive to temperature and can become hot or cold with the beverage. Hot beverages in particular could pose burn risks and would be a restaurant liability.
What is the Most Cost-Efficient Plastic Straw Alternative?
The best plastic straw alternative that will save your restaurant the most money varies widely across manufacturers since it is still considered a novelty. Regardless of the price differences, we can conclude that reusable straws will be a better long-term investment than single-use straws.
This leaves glass and metal straws the winners of this plastic straw alternative shootout. Both are highly versatile and reusable but have their own unique disadvantages. Which one do you want to use in your restaurant?