Jumping on the (very virtuous) bandwagon for making eco-friendly consumables, a Vietnamese company called HungHau Foods has started making plant-based drinking straws out of rice flour. Rather than ending up in the trash, these straws can be used, then eaten!
Protecting the environment has become a hot topic in Vietnam in recent years. In 2017, VN Express covered a story about a 26-year-old Hanoian named An Dang who witnessed a plastic straw being pulled from the bleeding nose of a sea turtle in Costa Rica. An Dang filmed the incident, uploaded the video to YouTube, and later started selling stainless steel straws in his online vegetarian food store.
“I realized that straws are not as harmless as they look,” An Dang said. “They are so small that nobody notices them, no matter how many they use every day.”
According to a 2017 report by Ocean Conservancy, Vietnam made the top 5 for countries that released the most plastic waste into the ocean. This is not an accolade to be proud of. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, combined, generate approximately 80 metric tons of plastic waste every single day.
But changes are being made. And straws are a very good place to start!
The industrious HungHau Foods are moving in the right direction: away from the traditional plastic straws that are massacring our environment. Based in Ho Chi Minh City, the company currently produces an impressive 100,000 rice flour straws a day. Its main production plant functions out of Sa Dec, a city in Dong Thap Province.
General Director Vo Minh Khang revealed that HungHau Foods will expand their capacity five times over in February of 2019.
The rice flour straws are already being marketed in South Korea, Japan, and even some European countries. Khang commented that he has “been to many countries where environment-friendly products are favored.” Khang is keen to target high-end restaurants and hotels within Vietnam.
Despite witnessing the popularity of eco-friendly products and the demands for new and innovative approaches to sustainability, Khang is still shocked at the company’s success: “It amazes me that consumers have responded so well to our straws,” the director revealed.
Research and development lasted 12 months, and manufacture began in November of 2018. The process wasn’t without its complications, though: “We faced such difficulties as finding the formula and machinery to ensure the straws are hard to be broken, stiff enough, and evenly made,” read a report from the company executive.
But what of the current formula? The rice paper straws are reassuringly long lasting, yet have some predictable limitations. They can be stored at room temperature for up to a year and a half. However, they will only keep their integrity for between 30 and 120 minutes when immersed in water, either at regular or low temperatures. They are edible, too, but HungHau Foods warns against eating too many in a day. “Straw addiction” is surely no laughing matter: nobody is trying to substitute one environmental problem for another!
The straws come in four attractive colors derived from natural food dyes: white (rice), green (amaranth spinach), black (sesame seeds), and purple (you guessed it—beetroot).
As public awareness of environmental issues increases, there’s nothing like the visibility of a straw to encourage us all to realize how ubiquitous this issue really is. So buy yours, as soon as you can, and fly the flag for lasting environmental change.
Just remember: they’re straws, not snack food!
What do you think of this eco-friendly idea? Will you be using rice flour straws for your takeaway drinks? Let us know in the comments below!