Straws have become an integral part of many private households, whether it's for morning smoothies or juices, milkshakes or evening cocktails. It is worth taking a look at the most sustainable and practical alternatives to plastic straws Plastic straws along with other environmentally damaging single-use plastics have been banned since July 03, 2021 across the entire European Union.
Below is a detailed overview of the most popular alternatives to plastic straws. Reusable or disposable, made of glass, metal or paper - what really is the best drinking straw for your next cocktail or as a sustainable gift for your loved ones?
Paper straws are not reusable. Nevertheless, we think that it is important to include these in the comparison, as they are often bought as an alternative to plastic straws.
Paper straws are a little more ecological than plastic drinking straws. Most of the paper can be degraded in the environment, but most of the paper straws on the market are not only made of paper, they also contain color Dyes and other chemicals to protect in from dissolving too quickly, although it rarely works and detrimental to the taste and quality of your drink. Recent reports have shown that the color used in paper straws contains a carcinogenic substance . Alcoholic or acidic beverages release these chemicals into the beverage even quicker. Paper straws also get thrown away in the general waste and must therefore be processed in a similarly laborious and unsustainable way as plastic straws.
When it comes to handling, paper straws are often used and then soak after a short time and in general less stable compared to more popular straw alternatives like Glass Straws or Metal Straws. The paper residue taste is often present and can turn even the tastiest cocktail into a bad drinking experience.
✓ Somewhat more ecological than the disposable plastic straws ✓ Often made in many colors and decorations
DISADVANTAGES ➜ Soaks through quickly ➜ Not completely tasteless ➜ Usually contains dyes and other harmful chemicals ➜ Must be disposed of as general waste
Bamboo is a great natural material and a plant that regrows very quickly. It is compostable , unless it is chemically processed became. Unfortunately, pesticides are often used to accelerate the growth of plants. bamboo is not a native plant and is mostly imported from Asia. There, the harvest is often carried out under poor conditions by underpaid workers. The straws are also not tasteless , but give off a distinct taste of their own.
Generally the use of a bamboo straw not very hygienic , because it is a natural product with a rough surface. Pollutants can in thefix wood and are not recognizable from the outside. As with most bamboo products, cleaning in the dishwasher is not possible. the The lifespan of a bamboo straw is therefore severely limited - between six months and a few years, depending on use. For these reasons, bamboo drinking straws are not permitted in Hospitality , as they do not meet HACCP conformity.
✓ Natural material made from renewable resources ✓ Shatterproof ✓ Biodegradable, can be disposed of with organic waste
➜ The shortest lifetime compared to the other options presented here ➜ Not tasteless, tastes strongly of bamboo ➜ May be contaminated with pesticides ➜ Must be imported from outside Europe ➜ Difficult to clean, not dishwasher safe ➜ Unsuitable for the catering industry, not HACCP-compliant due to wood bacteria and the difficulty in cleaning due to the discoloration of the bamboo ➜ Discolored quickly through the drinks
Hard plastic straws
In fact, there are also reusable plastic straws. The reusable hard plastic straw is ecological because it's preferable to the disposable plastic straw. But plastic as a material is extremely questionable because it is made from petroleum. Not only is it a raw material that is becoming increasingly scarce, it also has worrying effects on the climate.
When processing plastic, additives are added: plasticizers such as BPA, stabilizers, flame retardants and Fillers . These harmful substances can become detached from the plastic and be absorbed by the human body. These substances dissolve particularly easily, especially in combination with alcohol or acid. 
Regarding disposal, it should be said that most of such drinking straws are theoretically recyclable, but unfortunately, due to the dual disposal system in most municipalities, they have to be disposed of in the general waste. This is because only packaging with the green dot or allowed items are viable for the recycling bin. The light weight of the plastic straw also leads to problems. Even if a community accepted straws for recycling, they would be too thin and light for machines to pick up. They are sorted out by hand and also end up in the trash. 
✓ Available in different colors and patterns ✓ Break-proof ✓ Inexpensive
➜ Made from petroleum ➜ Contains BPA ➜ Not tasteless, tastes like plastic and chewed on ➜ Partly not dishwasher-safe ➜ Must be disposed of with general waste in most municipalities
Silicone straws are soft and pliable, which can take some getting used to. However, this consistency can be an advantage for toddlers. Silicone however, as soft plastic can contain BPA.  Cleaning can be made more difficult because silicone can become statically charged and therefore attracts dust that is difficult to remove. Due to the difficult cleaning, silicone drinking straws are not suitable for Hospitality.
Silicone is not biodegradable and is only rarely recycled because the infrastructure for it is lacking. Most municipalities regulate disposal via residual waste or handing it in at a recycling center.
✓ Available in many colors and patterns ✓ Break proof ✓Can be easily folded or crumpled to take away
➜ Not entirely tasteless Consistency takes getting used to ➜ May contain BPA and other chemical residues ➜ Silicone attracts dust and is often difficult to clean even in the dishwasher ➜ Silicone is not biodegradable ➜ Usually not recycled
Metal straws or stainless steel straws are break-proof and therefore last a long time. Metal straws are dishwasher safe and BPA free. They are good for cold drinks, but unfortunately quickly heat up, which can make it difficult to use with hot drinks. Metal straws are not tasteless and can leave a metallic aftertaste in the mouth. They also deliver unusual mouthfeel , as they are often sharp-edged and in the worst case can lead to injuries. A big disadvantage is the poor cleaning. Stainless steel and metal drinking straws do not have a smooth surface on whichbacteria can settle and not easily identified in the cleaning process. In addition, the inside of the drinking straw is never completely visible and impurities can accumulate.
Metal straws can theoretically be recycled, but must be taken to a special metal recycling facility. In addition, 71% carbon is used in the stainless steel manufacturing process. 
➜ Not Hygienic ➜ Leaves a metallic aftertaste in the mouth ➜ Conducts heat very quickly, there is a risk of burns ➜ Stainless steel creates an uncomfortable feeling in the mouth, especially on the teeth ➜ The sharp edges of the mouthpiece also represent an increased safety risk, especially for children. ➜ Cannot be recycled without problems, has to go to a special recycling facility
Glass straws are really one of the only sustainable straws that will give you the best taste experience! Eco-friendly drinking straws made of glass are the most hygienic, healthy and sustainable option when it comes to drinking straw. This is because glass has an extremely smooth surface, is transparent and lasts a lifetime when treated with care. Glass straws are easily to clean in the dishwasherthousands of times. Being transparent, Glass straws are the only straw that you can ensure 100% hygiene and pure taste.
Whilst HALM Straws have forged their way in the Glass Straw innovations, many other glass straws available (especially those made in China) are not safe, and are not produced with quality glass. When choosing glass straws, it is important to choose the best quality. The wall thickness, quality assurance and quality assurance should play an important role here. The mouthpiece of glass straws should always be smoothlyrounded. Even though glass straws are very strong, they are still glass, and just like any drinking glass, if they take a nasty fall onto a hard surface like tiles or cement, they may break. However, if used safely, a glass straw will last for years and even a lifetime as it one of most longest lasting reusable material available. Glass straws also come in up different sizes, 6 different lengths from the market leader!Whether you have a tumbler cocktail glass, a smoothie jar or reusable water bottle, reusable glass straws are available for any drinking glass or cup. Another great quality of glass, is that it can be easily engraved and etched with funny quotes or beautiful designs. Laser engraving on glass straws is a sustainable alternative to opting for colored drinking straws. Unfortunately the color used in many other glass straws is not sustainably sourced and often petroleum-based, negating the eco-friendly goal in the first place.
When it comes to recycling, a distinction must also be made when it comes to glass straws. Unfortunately, not every Glass straw is recyclable, because it depends on exactly the type of glass used and other added substances. Many manufacturers use Borosilicate glass. Borosilicate glass and mixed Quarz glass drinking straws are not very environmentally friendly and if broken, bust be disposed in general waste and cannot be recycled. Look out for the best quality glass straws to ensure you are purchasing pure glass that can be reused over and over again without loss of quality.
✓ Dishwasher safe ✓ No BPA or other plasticizers ✓Taste-neutral ✓ The most hygienic drinking straw ✓ Can be recycled in glass waste (if not borosilicate)
➜ Big differences in stability depending on the manufacturer ➜ Not every glass is easy to recycle, you have to pay attention to differences in quality
Straws in comparison conclusion
All of the alternatives have their advantages and disadvantages and are preferable to the disposable plastic straw. Overall, the best reusable drinking straws are Glass straws are the best alternative to single-use straws because they are the most eco-friendly are stylish and provide the best drinking experience. Glass straws are extremely stable, suitable for both cold and warm drinks, the easiest to clean and most hygienic of all available drinking straws. Glass straws are highly recommended for use at home or for Hospitality
Drinking straws are just one building block to rid the planet of its pollution. But it's a very important one. Every day, 3 billion plastic strawsare used and thrown in the trash, making it one of the ten most common types of pollution found on beaches. As many countries have already made the switch to alternatives to plastic straws and focus on sustainability.
Alone through our current customer base (as of September 2021) of approx. 10,000 customers in the hospitality and tens of thousands of end consumers, HALM glass drinking straws every day ensures approx. one tonne of single-use plastics are avoided per day.
There is no general answer to this for all types of reusable material. It is, however, important to find out about the respective product and to weigh up its advantages and disadvantages. Last but not least, due to the extremely hygienic nature of glass (very smooth surface, transparent and the most hygienic to clean), at HALM, we decided to produce rreusable drinking straws made of the highest quality glass.
Comparison questions & answers
In principle, both types of straw can be recycled. The virtual indestructibility of the material speaks for the metal straw. In favor of the glass straw, on the other hand, are the significantly better haptics, the soft mouthfeel, the neutral taste (metal tastes metallic) and the extremely good hygiene properties. With metal straws, it is unfortunately not possible to quickly determine from the outside whether there are any dirty residues from previous use. The lack of Glass straw resistance that is often accused of glass drinking straws is quickly resolved when you consider that the glass of glass straws is usually a) thicker and b) usually better quality than that of drinking glasses, which even small children can safely use.
When it comes to the question of whether to use a bamboo or glass straw, you should be aware that these are and will be two completely different drinking experiences. The significantly better hygiene properties, the lifelong reusability and the neutral taste speak in favor of glass straws.
Hard plastic straws, like glass straws, can be reused for a lifetime, but hard plastic straws are made from petroleum and usually release carcinogenic plasticizers and other ingredients into the body during use, especially if heated. In favor of glass straws, on the other hand, are significantly better haptics, a soft mouthfeel, a neutral taste (metal tastes metallic), and extremely good hygiene properties. Glass straws (if not made of borosilicate) can also be recycled very easily by being melted down to produce equally good other glass products.
Similar to hard plastic straws, silicone straws can release carcinogenic plasticizers and other ingredients into the body. These are also made from petroleum and are not recyclable. The advantages of glass straws are the significantly better feel, with a soft mouthfeel, neutral taste (metal tastes metallic) and extraordinarily good hygiene properties. Glass straws (if not made of borosilicate glass) can also be recycled very easily by being melted down to produce equally good other glass products. The lack of Glass straw resistance that is often accused of glass drinking straws is quickly resolved when you consider that the glass of glass straws is usually a) thicker and b) usually better quality than that of drinking glasses, which even small children can safely use.
Paper straws are the only real alternative to the currently widely used plastic straws, which are also disposable. However, general use is not good, paper straws disolve away very quickly before a drink is finished, deforestation will increase with higher demand of a widely used product and chemicals are typically used in colored paper straws, which has already prooven to be carcinogenic. At HALM, we clearly recommend the glass straw, which compares better with a soft mouthfeel, neutral taste, lifelong reusability and the most sustainable product.
Most common questions about all the different types of drinking straws
Simply put, yes! If you pay attention to the recyclability when buying glass straws (no use of borosilicate glass or colored glass), they can be recycled infinitely often and without loss of quality in the glass. In complete contrast to single-use plastic straws, which are one of the biggest global polluters on our beaches and seas. High-quality glass straws can be reused for a lifetime, just like a drinking glass.
Glass drinking straws can be made from extremely strong glass that does not easily break, ensuring safe use. Basically, however, it remains glass and should be handled accordingly. Our glass drinking straws run through multiple quality tests and are currently used by over 10,000 business customers every day, with a lower breakage rate than normal drinking glasses. Compared to plastic or bamboo, glass can neither absorb nor release substances due to the smooth surface of the material.
You can easily clean glass straws in the dishwasher. A standard rinse cycle is enough for a level of cleanliness that you are used to from a drinking glass. If there are smoothie leftovers from the day before in the straw, simply go through them with the supplied brush and the straw will shine like new again.
Yes, in contrast to many other drinking straws, glass drinking straws are absolutely taste neutral and remain so even after thorough cleaning. This ensures the purest drinking experience and enjoyment of all the flavors of your drink!
Glass straws are the most hygienic alternative to plastic straws. Easy to clean and easy to see any left over dirty residue, they are always easy to keep clean because of the hygienic and smooth glass surface
In principle, glass drinking straws are suitable for all drinks that you can also drink with any other straw. Glass has the best temperature resistant qualities so makes them suitable for ice-cold drinks or hot beverages.
Due to their durability and recyclability, metal straws can be environmentally friendly. But the recycling process is difficult and often requires a lot of energy. The same applies to the manufacturing process, for which environmentally harmful lignite is often used.
In principle, metal straws are harmless to health. Only a little thorough cleaning or injuries in the oral cavity through improper use can possibly become dangerous here.
Metal straws can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Because of the opaque material, it is often not easy to determine whether the drinking straw is really clean as you cannot see inside.
Metal straws are not guaranteed to be taste neutral. Often, just after rinsing, they can leave behind a metallic taste that can disrupt the drinking experience. However, this is not usually a problem in terms of hygiene or health.
With a thorough cleaning, metal straws are hygienic and reusable without any problems due to the smooth surface. However, this requires thorough cleaning of the inside of the drinking straw as well.
Due to the good heat conduction, metal drinking straws can be used for cool drinks and leave a pleasant feeling of freshness. With hot drinks, however, this quickly becomes a problem and could easily burn the skin.
Basically yes. Longevity and design speak for it. However, the time-consuming and unsafe cleaning makes the use of metal drinking straws a problem, since you often cannot see whether the drinking straw is really clean.
Since paper straws are only intended for one-time use, the origin of the raw materials is decisive for the eco-balance. If wood raw materials are used for processing, the balance of the paper drinking straw is only marginally better than that of a plastic straw. Therefore, pay attention to recycled straws.
Paper straws are absolutely harmless to health as long as only natural raw materials are used for processing. Of course, the drink should be drunk reasonably quickly because the material begins to dissolve in the liquid after a certain amount of time.
No, because paper straws soften/tear easily in the dishwasher.
Paper straws are not taste-neutral. As they tend to lose their structure within minutes of being inside any liquid, the paper taste becomes more intense over time with the drinking time.
When manufactured and stored according to standard, paper straws are hygienically unpolluted, especially since they are used once and then disposed of.
Paper straws are primarily suitable for cold to lukewarm drinks. If the drink is too hot, the straw can dissolve faster than intended.
Due to the disposable nature of the product, they are definitely suitable for Hospitality, although depending on the quantities used, they may no longer be economical. Ultimately, the idea of sustainability recedes into the background, even if no plastic was produced.
An extremely fast-growing plant that is naturally compostable, bamboo could be the near-ideal replacement for disposable straws. However, the chemical processing, the less sustainable local production and the low wages often make bamboo look less sustainable in practice than it could be.
Basically, it is unlikely to get any health side effects from the use of bamboo straws. Nevertheless, bacteria can collect in the wood and multiply through the liquid in the material of the drinking straw. Liquids can penetrate the material through the organic structures, which is why it is important to buy bamboo straws from established manufacturers. The drinking straw is also difficult to see, so that residues can form in the interior.
Bamboo straws are not easy to wash in the dishwasher. Nevertheless, this has an effect on the service life, which can often only be significantly less than half a year.
Bamboo straws have a quite distinct taste of their own, which can be compared to that of wooden sticks in water ice. This increases the longer the bamboo stays in the drink. Substances that have been drawn in from previous liquids can also affect the taste of the drink as a result of repeated use.
Hygiene cannot be guaranteed because bamboo is a natural material that can also harbor bacteria in the wood. HCCP conformity cannot therefore be taken for granted.
Bamboo straws can generally be used for all drinks where you can ignore the slight aftertaste of bamboo. It should be noted, however, that the drinking straw can discolour with intensively colored drinks and warm drinks can cause material fatigue to progress.
Due to the often non-existent HCCP conformity, bamboo drinking straws are not expressly suitable for Hospitality . Short-lived and difficult cleaning also speak against it.
Since silicone is a plastic, environmental friendliness can only be given to a certain extent. However, the disposal infrastructure makes recycling unlikely or impossible. This is due to the disposal in the residual waste and the light weight of the drinking straws, which makes it difficult for the filter machines to register them at all.
Thanks to their flexibility and soft feel, silicone drinking straws are safe for children in particular. However, hard plastic can also come loose over time. They are also difficult to clean, which is particularly noticeable in the interior. Serious concerns are not known.
Silicone straws can be cleaned in the dishwasher. However, residues inside the straw cannot be ruled out. In addition, rinsing with detergent causes greater wear and tear, which also affects the service life of the drinking straw.
Silicone straws also have a slightly artificial aftertaste that takes some getting used to. However, this is not particularly intense and is not a problem with drinks that are more intense in taste. However, the unusual material can be annoying.
Due to the static charge of the silicone, dust can form on the straw, which is difficult to remove. Due to the complicated cleaning, also due to the material, hygienic use is not always given.
Silicone straws can be used for both cold and warm drinks. However, material fatigue tends to set in with warmer drinks.
Due to the static charge and the difficult cleaning, silicone drinking straws are not suitable for Hospitality . They are more of an alternative for use in the household when dealing with small children.