In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the impact of plastic pollution on the environment. NLYTech Biotech, a Malaysian company based in Penang has developed a sustainable alternative to single use plastic straws known as RiceStraws™. This is a 100% biodegradable, natural drinking straw – the first ever produced in Malaysia. Mr. Law Yee Tee, the CEO and founder of NLYTech Biotech has been leading his team to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to replace single-use plastic made products. In-house research and development started in 2018 and by September 2019, the finalised formulation went into full production. In the same year, NLYTech Biotech won the Best Sustainable Packaging category during the 2019 Asia Food Innovation Awards, organised by FoodBev Media at Suntec, Singapore.
There are numerous options for plastic straw alternative such as metal straws, paper straws, bamboo straws, bamboo fibre straws, bio-polyethylene (PE) straws, and polylactic acid (PLA) straws, where some are biodegradable under certain conditions.
Paper straws may easily soften and at times, may leak an unpleasant paper taste during consumption, while the process of forming paper into straws require adhesive and coatings to prolong usage time, which may prolong the biodegradability period. The biodegradability of PLA straws depends on several factors such as heat and moisture to a certain degree and the presence of specific microbial strains. Waste collection, transportation and an industrial composting facility are necessary to process used PLA items separately from the accumulating plastic waste; The cost of recycling or composting may affect profitability and sustainability. Such factors do contribute to the low recycling rate. Globally, accumulated plastic waste amounted to 6.3 billion tonnes in 2015, of which only 9% was recycled (Geyer, R., Jambeck J.R. and Law, K.L., 2017).
RiceStraws™ has a competitive advantage in terms of price, food safety, functionality, consumer experience, sustainability and impact to the environment. The straws, made from rice flour and tapioca starch is certified 100% bio-based by the United States Department of Agricultural’s (USDA) BioPreferred® programme in March 2020.
Using 100% edible ingredients, the “life-cycle” of RiceStraws™ doesn’t just end when one is finished with their drink. Instead, the straw can be collected as food waste to be reprocessed into animal feed or composted into fertiliser, nurturing a new batch of crops to begin the cycle all over again. RiceStraws™ can be decomposed completely in 90 days in the environment without leaving harmful residue as a result of natural ingredients selection.
Straws buried in the ground degrade faster, retain more moisture, favour the growth of microorganisms and is accessible by other organisms underground. Unlike plastic materials which need ultraviolet light to disintegrate and left almost untouched when they end up in landfills, RiceStraws™ readily decompose under moist and dark conditions.
The quality of RiceStraws™ is evaluated using in house developed testing techniques that simulate actual human drinking behaviour. The company’s 100% biodegradable drinking straws can last at least 2 hours in cold drinks.
RiceStraws™ lifespan testing in iced plain water
RiceStraws™ lifespan testing in iced plain water
Decomposition process of 8mm diameter RiceStraws™
buried in the ground
The biodegradable RiceStraws™ are well accepted by vendors and consumers, approving that RiceStraws™ is pleasant to be used and is priced reasonably.
RiceStraws™ has since been sold locally and internationally to many countries. “We are proud of and grateful to our trusted customers who have made the move to switch to RiceStraws™ to protect our environment. Notably, in April 2021, NLYTech Biotech has been chosen as a trusted manufacturer by Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Malaysia to produce RiceStraws™ for their outlets,” said the company in a statement.
The journey of NLYTech Biotech does not stop with RiceStraws™. NLYTech Biotech is committed to providing innovative and sustainable solutions to combat plastic pollution. Hence, the company seeks to expand their product range to cover other single-use plastics items.
Research and development of new products is an ongoing effort by the company. NLYTech Biotech welcomes parties who are interested in this industry to collaborate with the company in realising a cleaner environment for a better future. For further enquiries and information, please contact NLYTech Biotech at https://www.ricestraws.net/
A satisfied customer of RiceStraws™
NLYTech Biotech team with YB Phee Boon Poh of the Penang state government
and other representatives at Penang Hill Corporation’s Green Practices
Awareness Campaign, 2021 to launch its biodegradable straws
Source: MIDA e-Newsletter July 2021