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A Straw That Does Not Suck - At Least As Far As The Environment Is Concerned

A phade straw

There’s a new eco-friendly drinking straw on the market, and it looks like it could be a viable option for businesses seeking alternatives to traditional plastic straws.

It’s called phade, and it was created by WinCup, which has a manufacturing facility here in Jacksonville.

Brad Laporte, CEO of WinCup, Inc., appeared on Tuesday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, and explained why these straws are so noteworthy.

“The reality is that only 10% of plastic actually gets recycled in the US,” he said. “And 36% of plastic material actually gets disposed of [im]properly. So plastic straws are a particularly difficult part of that because they're so small, and they don't typically get disposed of properly. So they end up in landfills. Or they end up in the environment and they stay around for hundreds of years as a fossil fuel [if they are made from] traditional plastics.The great thing about phade is within a matter of months, it's gone.”

Phade straws, which are made in the company’s Jacksonville plant, are made from PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate), a substrate derived from canola oil. They are marine biodegradable, and also compostable in home and industrial environments.

According to LaPorte, the straw attracts micro-organisms that help it break down quickly in bacteria-rich environments, including the ocean, home composting or municipal landfills. Depending on the environment they are broken down in, it only takes a matter of months, rather than the decades or more it takes for traditional plastic straws to break down.

When Ross asked if phade could be thrown in the trash, he explained, “We prefer that you put it in either a home composting pile or an industrial composting pile. But the reality is that if you throw it in the trash, wherever it ends up, it will still break down. The key technology here is bacteria. So any environment that has bacteria will break down this product.”

Once phade breaks down, it turns back into natural organic material, unlike traditional plastic straws, which turn into microplastics.

Unlike some other plastic straw alternatives, phade maintains the feel and user experience of a traditional plastic straw. LaPorte noted, “It doesn't get soggy, doesn't crack or split, it performs just like a regular straw.”

Currently, consumers can find phade straws locally at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, The Conch House, and Cap’s on the Water. On a national level, Dunkin Donuts is currently testing the straws out in more than 250 of its stores, some of which are located in the Southeast.

Businesses and consumers interested in requesting a sample of the staw, or in ordering some, can do so here:

To learn more about other types of eco-friendly packaging that restaurants in Northeast Florida are using, pick up a copy of Edible Northeast Florida’s “Sustainability” issue, which is on newsstands around town now.

Heather Schatz can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @heatherschatz.

Heather is the senior producer of WJCT 89.9 FM talk shows including First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, the Florida Roundup and What's Health Got to Do with It?