Tran Minh Tien founded the Ong Hut Company, a start-up company specializing in the production of eco-sustainable straws
Microplastics pollution is one of the most serious environmental problems of our century. According to a recent WWF study, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea every year and it is estimated that more than 150 million tonnes of plastic are lost in the world’s oceans. In the ranking of the most collected waste on the beaches, disposable straws appear in fifth place. These apparently harmless objects are often not disposed of properly and end up in the sea. The “average life” of the straws does not exceed 20 minutes but, to degrade and be absorbed by the environment, each of them takes almost 500 years. An alarming fact if you think that, every day, we use more than a billion straws around the world. To tackle this problem, many environmental associations – but also food multinationals such as McDonald’s or Starbucks – have launched major campaigns to stop disposable plastic straws and find eco-sustainable alternatives. A solution to the problem could come from the East
Eco-sustainable straws made with grass
Vietnamese entrepreneur Tran Minh Tien founded the Ong Hut Company, a start-up company specialising in the production of eco-sustainable, zero-impact straws. Tien produces straws made of “articulated lepirony”, a typical Vietnamese herb that has an empty stem and is naturally shaped like a straw. The straws of the Ong Hut are of two types. The fresh ones must be used within two weeks from the date of production: the stems are cleaned inside with an iron bar, washed, cut into pieces of 20 cm and delivered to bars and restaurants. Dried straws, on the other hand, can be stored for up to six months. The process is the same but, in addition, the straws are left in the sun for two or three days and then baked in ovens before being stored or shipped. All Tien straws do not contain any chemical compounds or preservatives, so they do not cause any health or environmental problems, and are obviously completely biodegradable. The packaging is also sustainable: the straws are packed inside banana leaves. For now, the straws of the Ong Hut Company are only available in Vietnam, but Tien said that he would have no problem exporting his product or helping anyone who wanted to open a company of grass straws in other countries: environmental protection is a global challenge and even a straw can make a difference!