In Korea, Researchers at the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology have achieved a holy grail in the fight against plastics waste due to straws: a renewable and biodegradable coating that keeps paper from going soggy.
A research team comprised of Dr. Oh Dongyeop and Dr. Kwak Hojung of KRICT and Professor Park Jeyoung of Sogang University developed the coating by adding a small amount of cellulose nanocrystals to well-known bioplastic polybutylene succinate. The added cellulose nanocrystals are the same material as the main component of paper, which allows the biodegradable plastic to firmly attach to the paper surface during the coating process.
Testing found that eco-friendly paper straws with the new coating maintained their physical integrity in both cold drinks and hot drinks, including water, tea, carbonated drinks, milk, and drinks containing lipids. Integrity was also maintained after prolonged contact with liquids. The straws also decomposed better than bioplastic straws made from polylactic acid.
The findings were published recently in the journal Advanced Science.