Climate-friendly straws made with lignin

Climate-friendly straws made with lignin

Publicerat 23 April, 2021

This summer, straws made of plastic will be banned in the EU. Instead, more circular alternatives will replace the environmental culprits, such as straws made of paper with a liquid-protective layer of cellulose and lignin.

80 to 85 percent of marine litter in the European Union (EU) consists of plastic, out of this 50 percent is disposable plastic products. This has led the EU to enforce a directive to ban disposable articles made of plastic, such as straws, cotton swabs, cutlery, plates, balloon sticks and beverage containers. The directive will enter into force in the summer of 2021.

A new alternative

Currently, paper straws are the most common replacement for plastic straws. There are, however, drawbacks, such as a high cost of the water‐proof wax layer and poor water stability due to delamination. Therefore, it is crucial to find a high‐performing alternative to mitigate the environmental problems brought by plastic straws.

In a paper, scientists from the department of Materials Science and Engineering at University of Maryland, are presenting a cheaper and more effective option – a cellulose‐lignin reinforced composite straw.

Advantages 

The cellulose‐lignin reinforced composite straw is fabricated by rolling a wet film made of homogeneously mixed cellulose microfibers, cellulose nanofibers, and lignin powders, which is then baked in oven at 150 °C. When baked, lignin melts and infiltrates the micro–nanocellulose, acting as a binder to improve the strength and performance of the straw.

By doing this the straw is given advantageous properties over current paper straws. For example, an excellent mechanical performance, high hydrostability and low cost.

Take part in the study here.