Hyderabad: Single-use plastic straws are a menace as they are difficult to degrade. City-based Retrostraws has come up with a solution- it is making straws using wheat, rice, tapioca and water. No chemicals are added or used while making them.
These do not require industrial composting and the used-up material can be used as animal feed, said Videeth Muppidi, founder and managing director, Retrostraws.
The straws use plant-based food colours- orange from carrot, red from beetroot and green from spinach. “The straws are completely made from plants. They can hold strong in cold drinks for an hour and do not become soggy. They have a shelf life of one year. They will biodegrade in one to two months after being discarded,” said Muppidi.
Straws made of plastic, metal, bamboo and paper are commonly available. The plastic ones are the least expensive but do not degrade easily. Paper, bamboo and metal straws are relatively expensive. The paper ones can biodegrade in five to six months if there are no chemical additives.
“We have a capacity to make one lakh piece per day at our Katedan facility. Now, we are making about 15,000 units. We will soon add coffee lids. We also want to make edible plates and spadework related to them is on,” said Muppidi adding that these straws do not induce any allergy. “Rice is fairly tolerated unlike wheat, which induce an allergy sometimes to some,” he said.
It is targeting breweries, coffee shops, cinema theatres, hospitals and retails chains that serve cold beverages. It now has tied up with on brewery and one more player. It is talking with a milkshake maker for a bulk order in the order of three lakh units. “We have straws with different girth to suit the various drinks,” he said adding that the average price for the biggest size is around Rs 1.55.
It is now sourcing the required raw material from local markets. But as volumes increase, the company will tie up with farmers directly. “As demand for our raw materials goes up, it will push production of wheat and rice up. We can even use grains that are discarded due to rain-induced moisture content. They will be processed and converted into powder,” said Muppidi, the mechanical engineer who hails from Karimnagar. His company is using a reverse engineered making unit, bringing down the cost of the machinery from Rs 80 lakh to under Rs 50 lakh.
Now you can get handpicked stories from Telangana Today on Telegram everyday. Click the link to subscribe.