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Taiwanese startup ramping up production of sugarcane straws
As a ban on single-use plastic straws is set to go into effect in July 2019, a Taiwanese startup is ramping up production of its biodegradable straws made from sugarcane and is already shipping its products worldwide.

The name of the new venture is "100 plastic free". Based in Taiwan, the company's objective is to fight pollution by making straws from plant fibers which can be digested by microorganisms in the ocean, thus greatly expediting their decomposition compared to plastic straws.

100 plastic free began researching plant fibers as replacements for plastics in 2017. The inventor and founder, Huang Chien-chung, told ETtoday that, in addition to developing straws made from sugarcane fibers, the company is also working with a French winery on developing products made from grape waste and wheat chaff.

Huang said that the sugarcane straws his company has developed can replace plastic straws and can fully decompose in the soil within six months. He said, when the group first started modifying plastic straw machinery to produce the sugarcane straws, others doubted them and said, "This can't possibly be done." However, after multiple modifications were made on the machinery, they succeeded.

The new straws are not only made of sugarcane, but other variants are made from coffee grounds and bamboo, with other materials being researched. In each case, the plant fiber of choice is combined with polylactic acid (PLA) to help the straws hold their shape, according to a representative from the company who spoke to Taiwan News.

When asked if the straws are edible, the company representative said that plant fibers are not easily digestible by humans and are therefore not meant to be eaten. The straws, which can withstand temperatures of up to 131 degrees Fahrenheit without losing their shape, have been patented, and mass production began in July.

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Source: Taiwan News
Photo credit: 100plasticfree
Rachel Shen (stj2377@taitra.org.tw)

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