Grass straws and other alternatives to single-use plastics
Cua Hang 3T is a Vietnamese company that make consumer products (i.e. straws, bags, hat, basket, hammock) from sedge grasses and bamboo, which grows naturally in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Typical products of the company is “Ong Hut Co” – grass straws, including: (i) fresh straws, which can last up to 10 days at 18-20 degree Celsius, selling at a price of VND 600 per straw (2.6 US cents); and (ii) dried straws, which can last 6 months at room temperature, selling at a price of VND 1.000 per straw (4.3 US cents). Meanwhile, the price of plastic straws varied from VND 100 to VND 400 per straw.
Up to date, Cua Hang 3T has produced and sold 1.8 million grass straws and 8,650 bamboo straws (Cua Hang 3T, 2019). Most importantly, the production and preservation of straws does not require any chemical substance while the materials are local based. These are the most noticeable advantages of the product comparing to other products as alternatives to plastic. However, Ong Hut Co does not plan to increase the production, as the company wants to give wild grass time to regenerate naturally. In addition, Cua Hang 3T designs to gradually and sustainably extend their material areas based on the nature of ecosystem. With this approach, the production can hardly meet the current market demand for non-plastic straws. Therefore, more alternatives might need encouraging to join in the supply.
Apart from Cua Hang 3T, there have been several companies producing rice straws (e.g. Hung Hau Foods, Ochao) at the price of roughly VND 600 per straw; paper straw (e.g. TAHA business and production company limited) at the price of VND 120 per straw; bamboo straws (e.g. Mao Meo Bamboo Straws) at the price of VND 2.500 – VND 10.000 per straw, stainless steel straws and cleaner (e.g. ) at the price of VND 85.000 – VND 100.000 per set; single-use wooden spoons (e.g. Hunufa mart, Kego). Although the prices are higher than plastic products, there is still high demand for the products not only from domestic customers but also international customers.