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Seamless winding belts produce paper straws

30 November 2020

Nitta Industries Europe GmbH introduces its seamless winding belts for manufacturing environmentally friendly drinking straws. The newly developed belt, SE-XA-PGG-F, has a substantially extended lifetime, so does not have to be replaced so often. It is manufactured with FDA rubber, fulfilling the needs of the food and beverage industries.

In May 2019, The Council of the European Union adopted a directive for reducing single-use plastic products, including drinking straws. As over 36 billion plastic straws are used every year in the EU, over seven million kilometres of non-recyclable plastic waste is produced. The German Ministry for the Environment confirms that plastic straws are among the major polluting items in the world's oceans. The industry has until 2021 to implement the directive in full.

Various renewable alternatives exist, including bamboo or straw, but these are difficult to standardise and can sometimes create other environmental problems. Multiple-use straws for bars and homes, the use of stainless steel or glass, as well as edible versions made from pasta, are not suitable on an industrial scale. One good alternative is paper. Because of mass production and advanced automation, the market price for a plastic straw is well below one penny. Alternative materials, which demand new production methods and new machinery, entail higher costs. However, once they are adopted by the market and mass production methods are introduced, the costs of producing paper straws – and the price for consumers – will fall dramatically.

Most manufacturers of paper straws use machines in which multiple paper webs are wound around a mandrel using a belt. The drawback is the very short lifetime of the belt, which can be as short as one day. The downtime for the paper straw machinery, due to frequent belt changes, results in higher production costs compared with plastic.

Read the full article in the December issue of DPA

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