GEORGE TOWN: A plastic straw costs three sen. But a biodegradable one is going to cost three to five times more.
For instance, a wax-coated paper straw costs 10 sen to 15 sen each.
Plastic goods wholesaler Michael Loh said coffee shops and hawkers might not be ready to give paper straws at no extra charge.
Loh, who supplies paper straws imported from China, said only cafes and hotels serving premium drinks buy them.
He said reusable metal straws might not be hygienic for use in food outlets because of the difficulty in thoroughly cleaning the inside of the tube.
“Without plastic straws, you can expect drink prices to go up, too,” he claimed, citing the polystyrene ban in Penang which led to hawkers raising their prices.
Loh’s company, Pusat Plastik Guan Seng Heng Sdn Bhd, has been a supplier to hundreds of hawkers and food sellers here since 1993.
A visit to his shop revealed about a million plastic straws heaped on a voluminous stack from floor to ceiling.
In comparison, his stock of about 10,000 paper straws only took up one section of a shelf.
“It won’t be easy to get rid of single use plastics. Plastic packaging and eating utensils are essential to the F&B industry,” Loh added.
HCK Food chief operating officer Teo Tien Su said finding a reliable supplier of straws made from paper or other biodegradable materials was a challenge.
“We have to consider the cost of paper straws and the availability of suppliers for our cafes, while also trying not to pass the additional cost to customers,” said Teo who runs the Jamaica Blue Fine Coffees cafe franchise in Malaysia.
Teo said Jamaica Blue presently still offers plastic straws, although the brand was working on offering alternatives soon.
“We are aware of the ban and enforcement measures as announced by the government,” he said.
“We plan to phase out plastic straws as soon as we find a reliable supplier that offers paper straws at a reasonable price.”
Ministry aims to cut plastic straw usage