PaperAge Magazine

Fort Wayne Company Finds Big Business in Paper Straws

By Megan Knowles, Online and Social Media Editor, KPC Media Group

Aardvark Straws - paper straw in drink "Our paper straws can go into any trash stream, whether they go into a landfill, a composter, a recycler — it doesn't really matter, they all break down the same way," says Kara Woodring, sales representative for Aardvark Straws. "No matter where it goes accidentally, it will break down naturally."

Aug. 8, 2018 (Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly) - The recent movement to reduce single-use plastic has meant big business for a Fort Wayne company.

Aardvark Straws came to Fort Wayne a little over 10 years ago and began manufacturing paper straws in 2007 when its parent company, Precision Products Group Inc., which manufactures small-size cylindrical tubing solutions, was asked to make a more environmentally friendly straw.

Business has picked up in the past two to three years, especially as of late.

“The biggest growth, exponentially, has been this past year, even since just January,” said Kara Woodring sales representative for Aardvark Straws.

She believes this uptick is because more consumers are aware of the harmful effects of plastics.

“People are now becoming more aware of all the plastics that are washing up on beaches,” Woodring said. “More people are taking vacations and seeing plastic pollution on these beaches, in the rivers, outside and doing more activities. Before, most people weren't aware of harmful effects of plastic.”

In addition to reaching customers at trade shows and through outbound marketing, Aardvark also partners with community groups, such as the Allen County Department of Environmental Management, to give samples of their products to restaurants who might be interested in switching from plastic straws. Woodring said the company has more than 100 such community partnerships.

“The no plastic straws campaign is just kind of one who's time has come,” ACDEM Business Technical Coordinator Jodi Leamon said. “It's really taking off. … It's just spreading for sure.”

Paper straws have an advantage over plastic straws in that they break down wherever they are.

“Most cities don't have a commercial composting facility,” Woodring said. “So whenever they're using a plastic straw or a throwaway utensil, they know that their consumers aren't going to recycle it or get it into a composter that is the correct stream. Our paper straws can go into any trash stream, whether they go into a landfill, a composter, a recycler — it doesn't really matter, they all break down the same way. No matter where it goes accidentally, it will break down naturally.”

Aardvark Straws has done tests for backyard and marine compostability, Woodring said. Results showed that their straws broke down in six months in a backyard setting and in two years in a marine environment.

Aardvark Straws uses 30 percent more material than its competitors, Woodring said, meaning the straws don't break down as quickly when in use.

“We consistently try to make sure that our straws are holding up within three to four hours if not longer,” she said. “Every couple of months we look back at our product, do some tests, and make sure that they still hold up, that there's no new products that have come out that will make them stronger or more eco-friendly.”

All of its material for its paper comes from . . . the full story can be found at the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly's website: Local company finds big business in paper straws.

To learn more about Aardvark Straws, please visit: www.aardvarkstraws.com.

SOURCE: Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly