Green Seal Responses

Green Seal Responses

An Innovation Statement that describes how the product differs from other products on the market, and clearly defines the Environmental Innovation of the product.

Sustain You is a start-up company that manufactures biodegradable straws from corn and rice stalks, as well as other agricultural refuse. The straws are edible and compostable and will compete advantageously, not just with plastic but also with paper straws, which generally cannot be composted.  While there are imported biodegradable straws, Sustain You has a cost advantage due to its purchase of local materials and the reduction in shipping costs.

An Impact Reduction Statement that clearly describes how the Environmental Innovation results in a reduction of the significant environmental and human health impacts compared to products of the same function.

The U.S. consumes an estimated 500 million single-use plastic straws each day, while in Europe the figure stands at 69 million. In California, the estimate is five million plastic straws every day. Plastic straws are neither biodegradable nor compostable and are among the top 10 contributors to plastic marine debris across the globe. A 2015 study estimated that 9.1 million tons of plastic were added to the ocean that year. The same study projects that the ocean will contain 155 million tons by 2025. Millions of turtles, seabirds and other wildlife die each year from consumption of plastic. There is a desperate need to replace the plastic in straws with environmentally friendly materials. Sustain You addresses this issue head on.

A Market Analysis that compares the applicant product and Environmental Innovation to the nationally recognized or market-leading products of the same functional class, including evidence that the applicant’s product is the first sold on the North American market to claim this Environmental Innovation.

Plastic straws represent approximately 90% of straws consumed in the U.S., with paper, metal, bamboo and other materials making up the remaining 10%. The plastic straw market is estimated at $11 billion; the paper market at $585 million but is projected to grow to $1.7 billion by 2024. The modern paper straw is a new, highly engineered product that has become increasingly popular. However, paper straws may still have a negative environmental impact, especially if they are improperly disposed of. Many have a layer of hydrophobic wax to make them waterproof and some contain harmful chemicals.

Sustain You’s business will be helped enormously by the switch from disposable plastic straws. Some countries (e.g., Australia, Canada) are banning plastic disposable straws, while others are considering such bans. More importantly, the major purchasers of plastic straws – fast-food chains such as McDonald's, Burger King, and others – are facing consumer pressure to eliminate their use, even without legislation. It seems likely that plastic straws will be phased out completely over the next several years.
Sustain You believes that it can produce its biodegradable straws at a price that is competitive to paper and can win market share because of the use local materials and its product’s environmental advantages. Based on internal research, Sustain You believes that it is the only company in the domestic market capable of producing biodegradable straws made from locally sourced materials. There are currently biodegradable imports, but Sustain You will have a distinct competitive advantage due to its local presence and lower costs.