Plastic straws consumption is about 500 million units per day, in the United States. Most of them end up in oceans or landfills. After a single use, they will remain there for hundreds of years.
As a response to this situation, more and more locations are starting to ban these straws. But rather than asking people to live a straw-less existence, a startup called Loliware offers an environmentally friendly alternative: Seaweed.
Loliware has developed a straw that the company’s sustainability adviser, Daniela Saltzman, told Business Insider “looks, feels, and acts like plastic.” However, it’s actually created out of “hyper-compostable” seaweed that biodegrades much like a banana peel on land and breaks down in weeks in water.
This summer the company will begin shipping its seaweed straws to several customers, including hospitality chain Marriott and beverage company Pernod Ricard.
By the end of 2020, Loliware expects to be able to produce 30 billion straws in a variety of styles, according to a Fast Company story, and it’s aiming for a production cost about the same as paper straws.
According to Loliware, its seaweed straws only start to turn soft after 18 hours of use. They also have a “neutral” taste, CEO Chelsea Briganti told Business Insider, and while the straws are edible, she doesn’t recommend eating them.
“It can be eaten, but this is not a food per se, or a snack,” she said. “Don’t expect to eat your whole straw as if it’s a candy.”