Food Taipei 2019

Watch: Why edible rice straws are a viable eco-friendly alternative

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Packaging & labelling Supply chain

A Malaysian producer of edible rice straws believes his company has the scale to become a viable eco-friendly alternative to plastic and paper varieties.

In this exclusive video interview with Food Manufacture​, NLYTech Biotech chief executive YT Law said his company was already capable of producing 2.4 million rice straws from its new manufacturing plant in Bayan Lepas, Malaysia.

Speaking at last month’s Food Taipei show in Taiwan, Law added that there was also the potential of setting up a production facility in Europe “in the next two years”​.

Completely harmless to the environment

Rice straws have the advantage of being completely harmless to the environment, while retaining their durability when immersed in water. Law said the fact that they were also edible made them an “interesting”​ selling point.

“Our straw is basically made up of 100% natural ingredients, and from that it is edible​,” he said.

“Even if it is not eaten by the consumer, it can be decomposed within 90 days. And even if the straw ends up in the sea, it won’t harm marine life. In fact, the fish will love it – it will be a natural food for them.”

Ban on plastic straws

In May, environment secretary Michael Gove announced a ban on plastic straws would come into force from April 2020.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws were used in England alone. However, fact checking site​ has acknowledged inconsistencies in estimates used.

Law added that NLYTech’s manufacturing capabilities meant that there was the potential of making edible rice alternatives to other products, such as cutlery.

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