Drawbacks of paper straws
In the Dutch parliament, questions have been raised to the Minister of Health about a newspaper article with the tendentious headline: "Environmentally friendly straws are life-threatening to young children".
The newspaper article was based on a Press release (in Dutch) issued by market surveillance authority NVWA. NVWA investigated reports about young children who nearly suffocated after sucking on a paper straw. Wet paper straws become soft, this can cause parts to come loose, forming a paper ‘ball’ that cannot be easily swallowed and may cause suffocation.
Paper instead of plastics
Plastic straws are banned since 3 July 2021. On that date, the European "single use plastics" Directive (EU) 2019/904 came into force. The Directive restricts certain plastic products because of the negative impact that they have on the environment.
Companies are now selling paper straws as an alternative to the banned plastic ones.
Does the environment outweigh safety?
According to the minister, “there are sufficient alternatives to plastic straws. Apart from paper straws, there are also reusable silicone or bamboo straws. Moreover, a straw is not always necessary. Children can also drink from spout cups or bottles where the straw remains part of the product. “
Of course, accidents involving small children or other vulnerable groups are never acceptable.