2018 was, without a doubt, the year plastic straws died.
The war picked up steam starting in 2015 after a YouTube video surfaced of a plastic straw being removed from the nostril of a sea turtle. Ever since then, big companies such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, Goldman Sachs Group and even the city of Seattle have all taken measures to slowly outlaw them – or ban them completely.
What’s more, all of them have turned to one company – Aardvark, the first original paper straw maker in America – to discuss using paper straws instead.
Before August of this year, Aardvark was essentially the only major paper straw maker in the U.S. The company started making paper straws in 1888, though plastic straws began to dominate the industry in the 1980s and 1990s. But, Aardvark’s product made a comeback in 2017 after companies started requesting them again.
Fast forward to today, where demand for its paper straws has soared 4,900 percent over the last year. In August, it was acquired by Hoffmaster for an undisclosed amount and just announced it’s building a new manufacturing facility, set to open in February, with plans to hire 100 workers.
“It is incredible right now,” Andy Romjue, president of Hoffmaster Foodservice, told FOX Business. “Our new facility in Fort Wayne [Indiana] is going to have seven to eight times the capacity that we have had in our existing facility.”
While Romjue nor Aardvark’s global business director, David Rhodes, would not disclose which companies it has partnered with in the year ahead, they did say that everyone has reached out about using their paper straws. Several companies, such as Walt Disney Co and Ted’s Montana Grill, have used their products for more than decade.
But since the uptick in demand, competition has increased in recent months. Several new startups have popped up looking to capitalize off the demand.
The other big issue for businesses looking to swap out plastic for paper is the price.
“It’s roughly three to four times the cost of a plastic straw but keep in mind, we’re talking fractions of a penny or about two pennies more for a plastic straw. But for heaven’s sake if you’re going to throw something away, don’t let it be plastic, where it’s going to live there forever,” Rhodes said.