A young couple drink bubble milk tea amid falling snow in Urumqi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Jan. 23, 2021. (Xinhua/Wang Fei)
BEIJING, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers have developed a new type of eco-friendly edible straws without microplastic.
Disposable plastic straws take hundreds of years to fully degrade, causing serious environmental problems and potential threats to human health. Paper straws have been used by the foodservice industry, but they bring poor taste to users and are generally easy to deform.
At the beginning of 2020, China released an ambitious plan to ban or significantly reduce the production and use of environmentally-unfriendly plastic products in the next five years to contain pollution.
The researchers developed the new edible and microplastic-free straw made from bacterial cellulose by biosynthesis. The straw achieves better mechanical performance than paper straws and avoids additional adhesives, according to the research article published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
The bacterial cellulose-based straws can be made thinner than paper straws with the same performance requirements. With edible coloring or natural plant extracts loaded on a 3D nanofiber network of bacterial cellulose, a variety of colors and flavors can be absorbed into the straws to provide a better taste.
The straws can degrade quickly in the environment without causing any negative environmental impact, China Science Daily reported. Experiments showed that they would break into pieces in 15 to 45 days, or even almost disappear.
The edible character provided a better user experience, making the bacterial cellulose-based straw a healthier and better eco-friendly substitute for plastic straws. ■