The ultimate buying guide to Paper Straws

Switching to Paper Straws
the ultimate guide for bars, restaurants and cafes

Bar, restaurant and cafe owners all over the world are turning their backs on plastic straws. Keen to give a good caring impression to their customers, the switch to paper straws seems like a relatively straight forward and visible way of sending the message that your business is eco-friendly and conscientious. However, many business owners are learning that the quality of paper straws from different manufacturers can vary massively.

To help prevent you get your fingers burnt, here are a few questions you should be asking when looking for paper straws online (regardless of whether you choose to buy your paper straws from or not).

1. You get what you pay for

High quality paper straws cost more – simple! They're all manufactured in exactly the same way, so first things first, if they're cheap, they're probably cheap for a reason. If you go for the cheapest option, you'll likely just upset your customers with straws which collapse, unravel or expand so they're literally not fit for purpose.

2. Made abroad is not always great, look for “Made in UK” (or Europe)

We've been talking to other paper straw manufacturers since the “paper straw revolution” began back in 2017. Paper straws, (like toilet paper, or other high volume, low cost items) take up a lot of room in carriage, and cost relatively little to manufacturer. If you're buying paper straws from a far away country (like China or India), a large portion of the cost of those straws will be carriage. Buying your straws from a UK manufacturer will mean less of the cost of the product is wasted on transport, and more is spent on the materials and manufacturing process.

3. Always request a paper straw sample pack, and test them properly

Paper drinking straws are fast earning a bad reputation. The market is flooded with cheap paper straws which which collapse, unravel or expand meaning the enjoyment of the drink is compromised. Before committing to a paper straws bulk order, always ask for a smaller sample pack, and make sure when they arrive you leave them sitting in a fizzy drink for at least 40 mins before you check to see if they're suitable for your valuable customers.

4. Look for certification from governing bodies like the FSC and British Standards

The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) are an international non-profit organisation who promote responsible management of the world’s forests – any straw manufacturer who is serious about saving the planet should be using FSC paper. Equally, you should be looking for some sort of indication that the product has been manufactured under suitable hygiene conditions – for obvious reasons, you want a clean and safe product to add to your customers' drink.

5. Beware of unfamiliar, newly-established companies

At the last count, there were well over a thousand sellers of paper straws on all of the common online market places. As a business you want a reliable service, as well as a good quality product. There are lots of companies online who are quite happy to take your money once, and loose your custom. Choose a company like to ensure that you can have easy open communication and get a good quality paper drinking straw.

6. Look for the stats on the product

Consistency is key. You don't want your paper straws to be one thing one day, and another thing the next. The full specification of the paper straws should be visible on the manufacturers website or product listings. You should be able to see the box dimensions, box quantities, straw length, colour and diameter – and all these items should be a constant. If you see claims like “colours and sizes may vary”, this is an indication that the seller is getting straws from multiple manufacturers, and they'll have difficulty guaranteeing the quality of their wares.

7. Get the right straw for the right drink

Most paper straws that you'll find online are roughly 200mm long with a 6mm inner diameter. This is pretty standard and is suitable for most long drinks. However of course, not all drinks come in long glasses, and not all drinks are of a watery consistency. If you're cafe, bar or restaurant serves drinks in tall glasses, make sure you find a drinking straw for long glasses. Equally, if you serve cocktails or spirit based drinks in smaller glasses, make sure you order paper drinking straws for small glasses (or as we call them at – sipping straws). There are also cases where a 6mm diameter straw is not suitable for thicker drinks like “milkshakes” or “slush” drinks. These sorts of drinks require paper drinking straws with a larger inner diameter, like 8mm or even 10mm.

8. Check for non-toxic inks

The paper straws that are coming from far away places like China or India are often made with oil based, non-food-safe toxic inks. Until the early sixties, all drinking straws were made from paper. The long established paper straw manufacturers have refined their manufacturing techniques and materials to ensure a safe product for the consumer to use. Today however, paper straw manufacturers around the world have jumped on to the paper straw band wagon, and will use any materials to make the paper straws as cheap as possible, and to maximise profit. Make sure you choose a manufacturer who specifies non-toxic inks to ensure your customers are getting the best quality paper straw available.

Have we missed anything? If you're looking for further advice on paper straws, we'd be happy to offer our advise. Please use the contact page to get in touch.