Whether you are against wasteful plastics or much rather have your own straw with you during these COVID-19 times, the impact on the straw marketplace is greater than ever these days.
Manufacturers (and those related-to) in the straw market are offering a variety of straws as alternatives to plastic straws. If you don’t know already, plastic straws are one of the top-most found ocean trash types, and that is why governments around the world have slowly been banning the use of single-use plastic straws in various establishments. And because of this, investments in restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars, and lounges are expected to create a relatively high demand for in-trend straws that are biodegradable as well.
That is where innovators such as Bert Balas and his high-end NON-PLASTIC straw company simply named The Straw come into play, which has made Balas’ company one of the most in-demand nationwide. For more on the outlook for the global straw market and how The Straw is now disrupting it, we spoke to Balas.
1. How did you get the idea to start and create The Straw?
Single-use plastic straws had become a hot topic in 2018. As news headlines around the world made mention of the coming ban on plastic straws, many restaurants turned to another single-use alternative, paper. After trying one of these replacements for the first time, the idea of inventing a sustainable solution to this problem began to take form. It’s not hard to see that we have a problem with garbage. Over the years, I’ve noticed litter has become all too common in city streets, beaches, and nature trails. After seeing these headlines about single-use plastic straws, I was seeing them everywhere! One headline that really stood out, “500 million single-use straws are used every day in America”! This is only 4.25% of the global population and single-use is not sustainable! Paper straws not only taste terrible and turn to soggy mess after a short time but also require a great deal of energy to continuously supply the demand of billions of straw users around the world. If we are going to make any kind of real difference, we must look at reusable designs. A small team was formed and we began researching the market, looking for ways to reinvent reusable straws to be an everyday personal item. After reading thousands of reviews, testing products, and surveying people from all walks of life, we found an opportunity to fill a gap in the market. A premium, portable, reusable straw is the answer.
2. How have you been disrupting your industry since the start?
We have really taken the time to polish a product that answers the shortcomings of anything that was available on the market before us. Reusable straws are often a “one size fits all”, with one length, you are limited to select size drinks based on the size of your straw. Not only that, but they are also unrealistic for day to day use outside of home life. To pack these things around in your pocket and having to take them to the restroom for a rinse after use is way too much work. Some portable designs are available, but they too fall short of a realistic solution. Telescopic straws have been compared to sucking through a broken plastic straw, even when fully extended. They also collapse on impact with ice cubes and some even collapse without warning, for you to fish them back out with your fingers from the bottom of your drink. Other designs are collapsible, like a tent pole, with a silicone tube that holds together 4 pieces of stainless steel. It is a nice design, in theory, however, it’s also limited to one size and many reviews reveal the difficulty of keeping it clean; especially between the silicone and steel parts. We stand behind our premium portable straw with a lifetime warranty, as it is designed to last! We want everyone to utilize The Straw, replacing single-use and reusables that aren’t up to the challenge. That’s why we also offer a 14-day money-back guarantee. The straw is carried in a compact, watertight case that doubles as a quick rinse on-the-go! Simply add water, mouthwash, or a shot of vodka to the case before leaving home. The Straw also offers 4 sizes in one, with a mouthpiece and 3 extensions to best suit any size drink. The mouthpiece is precisely fitted with a food-grade silicone sleeve for protecting your teeth from contacting steel and your lips from hot and cold drinks. Each extension adds 6.5cm(2.5”) to the 7cm(2.7”) mouthpiece, up to a total length of 26.5cm(10.4”) and it’s even possible to combine multiple sets for extreme lengths. The Straw is assembled with a threaded connection for strength and reliability. These threads have been carefully designed for a quick and easy experience. After use, the straw is broken down and put back into the case with liquid, it’s self rinsing as you walk or can be shaken up for a quick rinse and comes with a cleaning brush, just in case. This allows the user to reuse the straw multiple times throughout the day, without having to sneak off to the restroom to rinse their straw or carrying around a sticky mess until they get home.
3. What trends in the marketplace have you been seeing in relation to your industry and product?
There is definitely a growing interest for portable reusable straws. Many people are seeing the value in making a change to replace these single-use straws, paper and plastic alike. As people adopt the idea of a reusable straw being an everyday personal item, we will see more and more people gravitate to the idea. It is especially helpful when people with large followings, such as celebrities and influencers lead the way on new innovative ideas. The path to a sustainable future is in motion and I am looking forward to a brighter future!
4. Who do you see as your ‘competition’ in your industry?
A variety of reusable straws are on the market today. From standard stainless steel straws to glass, bamboo, and now silicone, there is no shortage of options available. As the ban on single-use plastics is implemented around the world, portable reusable straw designs have gained popularity.
I wouldn’t consider any of the traditional reusable straws, nor the new portable designs to be competition but rather part of the same team. The main focus here is to provide people with sustainable alternatives to single-use paper and a plastic straw.
5. How does The Straw relate directly to COVID-19?
COVID-19 has made a dramatic impact on our day to day lives, with social distancing and facemasks becoming the new norm. The Straw provides peace of mind in knowing where your straw has been and who has touched or cleaned it.
6. What are the key factors entrepreneurs should evaluate when starting and running their company?
One of the most important things anyone can do when starting a business is research. Too many people start a business without doing a thorough investigation of what’s on the market and what consumers really want! Take the time to formulate a solid plan and even do some pre-launch marketing to see what kind of feedback you get. This way you can adapt and make changes to your plan before you start. Prepare yourself to run a marathon and build a business that will last. If you sprint off the starting line, you could miss a lot of important steps that could be devastating in the long term.
7. What does the rest of 2020 look like for The Straw and yourself?
We will continue to spread the word and get The Straw in as many hands as we can! Our hope is to inspire a sustainable future! Always looking to improve our product and procedures in order to provide people the most value we possibly can. Currently, we are working on updating our website for a more user-friendly experience and putting together some ideas to get people involved with some great giveaways for participation! Come by and visit us online, stay up to date with exciting news, contests, prizes, and more!