Plastic-free drinking straws from natural materials in Vietnam
The dilemma of using plastic drinking straws always catch the attention of younger generation. Various types of plastic-free straws are made from compostable materials in Vietnam like rice four and some types of grass stalks.
Rice flour straws
Rice straws are not made of rice stalks, but they are actually made from rice flour in combination with tapioca starch. They are just like a thin version of macaronis which are cut into the length of a normal drinking straw instead. And you can guess, they are edible. For each 500 g (1.1 lbs) of rice flour, 80 straws can be produced. After being mixed well, the dough will be steamed. After being steamed, it will be transferred to the pellet machine to make pellets (to harden the outcome straws later). After the pellet phase, the pellets are sent to the tube extruder. The dough will be extruded into long strands (about 3-4 meters) lying on the conveyor belt to be dried temporarily. Finally, the strands will be cut into straws.
Lepironia grass straws
Lepironia articulata (Vietnamese: cỏ bàng), known as the grey sedge can be used as natural drinking straws. The process of producing straws is not difficult. Lepironia grass stems must be selected from those of 1.5 or 2 years old, so that the straws will be hard enough. Next, the stems will be cut into straws, and they will get cleaned from the inner side. Finally, they will go through a two-step drying process. First, they get dried partially at 45-50 °C (113-122 °F) or simply they get sun-dried. Second, they will get dried at higher temperature of 50-80°C (122-176 °F).
Similar to Lepironia grass, green straws can salso made from reeds (Phragmites australis, Vietnamese: sậy). Reeds grow naturally near U Minh Thượng forests in southern Vietnam, and one firm has turned them into straws. The process is pretty much the same as Lepironia grass straws but the selecting phrase requires slightly more time.