The Pros and Cons of PLA Straws


The Pros and Cons of PLA Straws

Straws have been a hot topic in recent months.  As more and more people become aware of the devastating consequences that plastic straws have on the environment, especially marine life, there’s been a global call to ban plastic straws altogether.

As the movement is gaining momentum, alternatives to plastic straws are being explored by individuals and businesses alike.  Some of these alternatives include bamboo, paper, stainless steel and PLA straws.

Although the alternatives above are by far more sustainable than plastic straws, not all of them are received well by everyone.  Reusable straws are often perceived as unhygienic and paper straws become soggy after a while.  It’s no wonder then that PLA straws may seem like the perfect solution! They are clear and function & feel the same way plastic straws do.  But before you think they are the best alternative to plastic straws, here are some pros and cons to consider:


PLA straws hold a number of  benefits.  Not only are they made from renewable plant-based materials but they also require 68% fewer fossil fuel resources to produce than traditional plastic and are commercially compostable to boot.  This makes them a more sustainable choice in comparison to their plastic counterparts.  They are also sturdy, hold well in drinks and are perceived to be more hygienic as they are a single-use item.


Some may consider the fact that these look & act like plastic straws as a benefit, but it might be just the opposite.  Clients won’t know the difference between PLA and plastic straws, so no message of sustainability is being communicated to them.  Although we mentioned that PLA straws are commercially compostable, there’s no control over what a client does with these straws once they are done using them.  PLA requires very specific conditions to break down fully.  If they are sent to landfill or if they end up in our oceans, they can be just as damaging as plastic straws.  Although having them commercially composted is an option, it should be noted that these facilities in South Africa are few and far between.

At the end of the day, foregoing the straw altogether is probably the best option if we want to live sustainable.  If you simply cannot bear to go without one, reusable or paper straws are probably your best bet.  We stock a small range of paper straws, check it out here.


Looking for a commercial composting facility in Cape Town?  You can contact Emile at Ywaste on or 082 537 0976 or Zero to Landfill Organics on or 083 696 5138.




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