21. Nov 2019

PHA straws soon on the European market?

The first straws - at least the first in Europe - to be based on polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastic have been developed and may soon be sold commercially.

The Polymers and Advanced Materials Group at Spain’s Universitat Jaume I in collaboration with the Laboratory of New Materials and Nanotechnology of the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology of the Spanish Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (IATA-CSIC) have developed, together with the company Ocenic Resins, S.L. a plastic formulation suitable for making straws that are 100 percent biodegradable. These are the first straws - at least in Europe - developed based on polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastic.

PHAs are naturally generated by some microbes when subjected to controlled feeding conditions, which means that this family of materials is renewably sourced, not based on oil and wholly natural. Moreover, these plastics can be obtained by feeding residues to bacteria; hence, waste that would otherwise have to be treated acquires value. Since these plastics are naturally synthesized by living organisms, their disintegration in the environment takes place spontaneously, thus being able to serve as food to the same bacteria that produce them.

Luis Cabedo Mas, the researcher in charge of the project, noted that, in addition to their environmental advantages, the ‘properties of these materials are excellent for the manufacturing of single-use products and food packaging’.

Straws made from this material, unlike paper straws, resist hot liquids without altering the flavour of the beverage. As far as industrial viability is concerned, it should be pointed out that this material can be processed using conventional manufacturing technologies, which makes it technically very attractive for companies in the sector. Proof of this is that the company Ocenic Resins, S.L. is already industrially manufacturing these straws and, very likely, they will soon be commercially available.

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