Paper Straws May Harm Environment More Than Plastic


A collection of paper, left, and neon plastic drinking straws stand in an arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's government wants to eliminate plastic waste by 2042. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

“Eco-friendly” paper drinking straws contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals, a new study has concluded.

In the first analysis of its kind in Europe, and only the second in the world, Belgian researchers tested 39 brands of straws for the group of synthetic chemicals known as poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

PFAS were found in the majority of the straws tested and were most common in those made from paper and bamboo, the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Food Additives and Contaminants, found.

“Straws made from plant-based materials, such as paper and bamboo, are often advertised as being more sustainable and eco-friendly than those made from plastic,” says researcher Dr Thimo Groffen, an environmental scientist at the University of Antwerp, who is involved in this study.

“However, the presence of PFAS in these straws means that’s not necessarily true.”

A growing number of countries, including the UK and Belgium, have banned sale of single-use plastic products, including drinking straws, and plant-based versions have become popular alternatives.

The paper straws were most likely to contain PFAS, with the chemicals detected in 18/20 (90%) of the brands tested. PFAS were also detected in 4/5 (80%) brands of bamboo straw, 3/4 (75%) of the plastic straw brands and 2/5 (40%) brands of glass straw. They were not detected in any of the five types of steel straw tested.

Read More Here: Paper Straws May Harm Environment More Than Plastic: Study

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