Plastic Straws Are Coming to an End, but Will Paper Straws Rise to Prominence?
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Plastic Straws Are Coming to an End, but Will Paper Straws Rise to Prominence?

China has banned and restricted the production, sales and use of some plastic products from the beginning of 2020, and stipulated that by the end of 2020, the national catering industry bans disposable plastic straws.

According to statistics from the Bureau of Statistics, the output of plastic products in 2019 was 81.842 million tons, a narrow increase of 3.90% over 2018. In addition, according to market data, the output of plastic straws is 30,000 tons, about 46 billion, and the per capita usage exceeds 30. Experts in the industry say that the use time of plastic straws is only a few minutes, but the decomposition time may be as long as 500 years.

1. Paper straws are expensive and slow in short-term popularization

According to the feedback of representative base paper companies, the seamless pipes that are currently formed at one time are only produced in Canada and the United Kingdom. Chinese paper straws are cut with three layers of paper rolled into hollow rods, generally in the mode of 60+120+120, and the outer layer weighs 60 grams. Single gloss paper, the middle two layers are 120g paper straw base paper, and the three layers are high wet strength paper. In the paper-making provinces, manufacturers in Shandong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Guangdong provinces produce according to orders. The paper straws manufacturers produce about 100 tons per month, and the market demand is 1,000 tons per month, which is smaller than other food-grade packaging papers.

In the process of paper straws manufacturing, the machine must be constantly adjusted according to customer needs, paper specifications, etc. The drying process is difficult for inexperienced companies. In addition, the current order status of enterprises has not immediately taken effect due to the prohibition order, and many terminal enterprises are in the wait-and-see stage.

According to field investigations, the raw materials of paper straws are mainly softwood pulp and grouting pulp. Some companies use sugarcane pulp, bamboo pulp, and softwood pulp to produce straw paper. The quality of imported paper tubes from Thailand is better than that of domestic ones. According to market data, the cost of paper tubes is 0.1 yuan/piece, which is more than three times the cost of plastic tubes. The cost of paper tubes using pure pulp as raw materials is higher than that of plastic tubes.

2. The paper straw market continues to develop

With the optimization of the industry structure, and under the influence of the ban on plastics, Chinese paper straw manufacturers have tried to produce paper straw base paper, but there are hoses and explosive tubes in the trial production process, plus the base paper commonly used in the market now has low gram weight, resulting in difficult production.

Analysis shows that the paper straw market has started one after another, but due to cost constraints, short-term new production capacity is relatively small. In addition, environmental protection and consumption scenarios are different. There are also stainless steel straws, glass straws, polylactic acid straws, and corn starch straws on the market. Among them, stainless steel straws and glass straws are mostly used in homes and canteens.

The consumption of paper straws and papermaking raw materials has increased, mainly in wood pulp, non-wood pulp and other virgin pulps. Due to the current limited volume and the small production volume of enterprises, it is difficult to immediately exert the effect of increasing pulp in the short term.

The ban on plastics is conducive to increasing the supply of green products and increasing the consumption of pulp.

Plastic restrictions and prohibitions help increase the supply of green products, promote the rational use of resources, and help increase the use of paper packaging, food-grade paper, etc. Paper packaging mostly uses waste paper as raw materials. Now when waste paper is strictly controlled, the pulp system and downstream base paper directly benefit.

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