The average medium drinking straw lid contains 2.5 grams worth of plastic, that comes with a plastic straw that is roughly another gram of plastic, so 3.5 grams in total. Technomic estimates that over a 170 million plastic straws are used in USA everyday, this is one of lower estimates of the actual number. So every straw needs a drinking straw lid but lets assume that 40% of the time that isn't the case. So roughly 102 million drinking straw lids are being used in the USA everyday, then that simply times it by average total of plastic in grams for a standard straw and drinking straw lid (3.5 grams). So that is 357 million grams of plastic, so to compare to IDK the statue of liberty which weighs about 204 million grams, so basically the equivalent plastic of one full statue then 3/4 of another statue of liberty, daily. This is just the secondary point as to argument to replace fast food drinking cup lids with biodegradable and safe alternatives rice paper is purely organic it has some interesting properties that make it a suitable replacement as well as ergonomic. Rice paper in this particular use wouldn't alter the flavor in a noticeable amount but also it capable of creating an almost leak proof fitting on the cup, if properly applied to the cup.
The key focus I have is this is a healthier alternative then current makeup of the plastics being used for Drinking Straw lids that typically use either PET(1) or Polystyrene (6). There are some notable exceptions such as Taco Bell that uses one of safest choice plastics for drinking straw lids that is Polypropylene (5). But most of the other fast food companies don't label their drinking straw lids since the lids have a striking resemblance to a noted polystyrene (6) lid, probably. I found a local fast food place that actually had the polystyrene recycling number on the plastic drinking lid. So polystyrene has sort of bad rep since it contains the toxic substances Styrene and Benzene suspected carcinogens, also neurotoxins that are hazardous to humans. The World Health Organization has recognized that polystyrene is carcinogenic occupational hazard for plastic workers, are two times more likely to develop leukemia and five times more likely to develop a nasal cancer. But for normal citizens its likely that 40% of people have small amount of the noxious chemical (styrene) in their bloodstream, and the only likely exposure routes is through our mouths. The NIH identified that the only risk as a possible source of this exposure is due to containers made from polystyrene, such as a drinking straw lid. The research is still pending on understanding the true health risks that an everyday person could be exposed to, with having just this little bit of noxious chemical in their system, but for right now its safe till the research comes out. As FDA has already been submitted a comprehensive review of understanding the migratory effects between polystyrene and food contact, which found that level of toxic styrene in is 2.2 ppb for all polystyrene users as long as they fall under consuming only 3 kg worth of calories. So the people most at risk even by this probably biased study are athletes and body builders, since they are known for large diets. The previous study submitted to the FDA was was prepared by the plastics foodservice packaging group so its expected that study is just a little bit biased. So I'm still going to avoid using drinking straw lids, as to wait for the current research that is independent with no formal ties to plastic industry hasn't yet confirmed that safety of polystyrene, so I'm just going to avoid it. There are a wide range of chemicals that could cause adverse effects in humans but there are only a small fraction that gets tested, since there are over 25000 different kinds of chemicals that the FDA needs to evaluate, so polystyrene full assessment of understanding health impacts isn't a huge priority. Also an important to keep in mind are microplatics. Well I can simply talk forever on the matter, but lets just say the rice paper replacement is a little less hygienic granted dependent on the cleanliness of your hands, but is better for the environment as its easily biodegradable whereas plastic can take nearly 1000 years to decompose. Even the recycability of plastic can be thrown into question 7 things you don't know about plastic and recycling, this article examine the narrowness of recycling, which basically sums up the many limitations even to bioplastics. Rice paper is actually easily applicable once wet and will create a water tight seal if correctly applied. Rice paper has been longed hailed as a food wrapper for spring rolls so, accidentally consuming a part of lid is no problem, but relatively low chance of since it doesn't break in that sort of way, only when its not properly dampened. So I think I've said enough so lets begin! Important tip the cleanliness of your hands are important because if you wouldn't want to eat a hamburger, if your hands are that dirty, you shouldn't do this either till you wash your hands.
Also duly note the allergens posted which the four ingredients of rice paper are
Also note it takes on average 1-2 minutes going through all the steps. The straw is also looser then in an ordinary plastic lid, so think of it like a straw with out a lid.
- cup preferably paper filled with a drinkable liquid
- circular rice paper (50 pack of them cost like 2 dollars, so its roughly 4 cents a rice paper)
- adequate spray bottle that has is either HDPE (2) or PP (5) recyclable plastic filled with tap water
- compostable straws (kid friendly) or steel reusable straws
- rubberband (faster) or yarn (tighter fit)
Step 1: Lay Out the Rice Paper
You could place it one hand or on a paper towel
-it feels kind of like plastic
-its not flimsy but pretty brittle
note: I placed it on a dark laptop bag as to get a better picture of it
Step 2: Mist One Side of Rice Paper Using the Water in the Spray Bottle
The rice paper if properly sprayed with just one or two mists of water will become easily mold able but first set it on the cup.
Step 3: It Will Easily Mold to the Cup
if properly put on,
important note with the cup simply smooth on the top circular part of the cup, this will help make a watertight seal
Step 4: So Stick a Straw in the Middle
A compostable straw in my opinion is more kid friendly but a still less environmentally friendly but still more environmentally friendly then ordinary plastic, just not as environmentally friendly as a steel straw (reusable).
A steel straw in my opinion is less kid friendly for obvious reasons but more environmentally friendly.
Step 5: Tie a String or Put a Rubber Band, Around the Upper Part of the Cup
rubber band is fast
String gives it a nice tight fit
This will allow for less slack to be given to the top of lid creating a nice almost water tight seal. A standard plastic lid has an like an A but this lid is basically like a B in rating its ability to stop liquids from dripping out of the cup.
Step 6: The Moist Rice Paper Can Easily Be Ripped to Clean Up the Appearance
Its like ripping a mandarin orange in the level of give it has, so it can be easily cleaned up.
Step 7: Test That of a Normal Lid and Alternative Lid
Notice that normal plastic lid since it has rigid flaps is capable of keeping the straw in place,
but otherwise than that the performance is practically the same.
Step 8: Optional: Metal Straw Cleaning (if Chosen)
that is what the cleaner looks like similar that of cleaning a test tube sort of brush
Step 9: Samples: of Plastic Drinking Straw Lids
I like Taco Bell went with the best option with the type of plastic used (5). But the rest eh.