Straws are currently produced from polypropylene, and any biobased alternatives must meet a number of functional requirements. For example, narrow juice box straws must be highly flexible and easily cut to smooth edges during manufacture. Customers also prefer such straws to be transparent.
Sukano was able to reduce PLA’s brittleness to avoid rough edges during straw production. And, by adding melt enhancers, Sukano increased PLA’s dimensional stability and added flexibility, so the straws would not crack at high temperature.
“At NatureWorks, we are helping rethink plastics,” says Steve Davies, Commercial Director at NatureWorks Performance Packaging. “The replacement of conventional oil-based polypropylene by Ingeo™ in drinking straws is just one example of how bioplastics can help address sustainability, while still providing the high performance material required for this application.