Replacing plastic straws with rye
As of last year, the sale and distribution of plastic straws is banned in Europe. While paper alternatives have popped up in supermarkets and bars, fourth-generation rye farmer Cassandra Bourmault wondered whether there might be a more ‘natural’ way to replace the straw.
Bourmault’s solution is Végé Paille: a straw substitute made from, well, straw. Once the start-up has harvested its rye in Le Lude, in France’s Pays de la Loire, it upcycles the stalk of the crop for the retail and foodservice sectors. Végé Paille launched in April of this year.
The stalks are cut (into either 14cm or 19cm lengths), washed, dried and packaged. They contain no pesticide residue, and despite the rye grain containing gluten, the stalks are completely gluten-free.
So what happens to the straws at their end-of-life? They’re 100% compostable, we were told. “If you could almost throw them on the ground! After 2-3 months, they’ll be completely decomposed.”