Paper Straws Recylable?
Are paper straws recyclable? Or if they've been used, do they not get accepted because most recyclers don't accept "food contaminated" paper?
Good question! I wonder the same
Contacted Waste Management and they told me that paper straws are recyclable as long as there is no wax coating and the straws are rinsed.
Seems very painstaking to have to rinse them before recycling.
I'm trying to find out if the paper straws I've been using have a wax coating One can probably tell if there's a wax coating on the outside but if it's on the inside diameter, much harder to determine.
Identifying waxed straws is tough. Look on the packaging or, if you don't have the packaging you may be able to look for wax by bending the straw. Look along the bend (inside and out, which is why this is hard) to see if you see cracking of a surface covering.
Thanks Mitch, for your helpful comments re how to determine if a paper straw is wax coated or not.
I learned today that the paper used to make straws often (or maybe always) has dry wax built into the sheet, and also that wax can be introduced to the inside layer of 1 of the plys of paper there are typically 3 to 4 plys of paper in a high quality rigid paper straw) during manufacturing for lubrication purposes.
Would this disqualify the straws from being able to be recycled?
Would the presence of wax contaminate the batch of paper recycling?
Some paper+wax materials are accepted for recycling, but in many municipalities the answer is "no" because they have not invested in the technology.
What's your ZIP Code? We may be able to tell you whether your curbside program will take paper straws.
The wax can contaminate paper recycled with a waxed straw, just as a waxed carton does.
However, if you compost they can go in the heap and will break down.
My zip code is 46074.
Also, many paper straws these days are "new and improved", not the straws we remember from years ago.
These days many are made of 3 to 4 layers of paper laminated with glue to give them rigidity so they don't quickly breakdown.
Would the glue be a deterrent to recycling?
The glue can be dissolved during processing, but not all programs will accept everything so it is good to check ahead.
It looks like your curbside program, Boone County Curbside Recycling Program, takes mixed paper, which should include non-waxed straws: https://search.earth911.com/program/Q1RQNVJZXFpLXQ/?what=Mixed+Paper&where=46074&max_distance=25&country=US&province=IN&city=Westfield®ion=Hamilton&postal_code=46074&latitude=40.026029426926&longitude=-86.163685062954&sponsor=&list_filter=all
Thank you, Mitch!