Can You Recycle Plastic Straws?

Plastic straws are a major contributor to the amount of plastic waste worldwide. People are also becoming increasingly aware of the harmful effects that plastic waste has on the environment. So a question arises whether or not plastic straws can be recycled. It could appear that recycling plastic straws is an easy solution to reduce the amount of plastic waste but it is not that simple.

Plastic straws are made from polypropylene and this is a type of plastic that can be recycled. However, these straws are often too small and light to be put into recycling machinery which is why it ends up in general waste instead. Plastic straws are also often mixed with food residues that need to be removed before recycling, which makes the process even more complicated and expensive. Even though plastic straws could be recycled there are challenges involved these straws are often not recycled.

Key Takeaways

  • Plastic straws are made from a material called polypropylene and even though this is a material that can be recycled but there are challenges in doing so.
  • The amount of plastic waste in landfills and oceans can be significantly reduced by disposing of plastic straws properly by recycling, reusing, and throwing them in the bin.
  • Plastic straws can be reused in a number of ways such as using them to make DIY home projects, an organizational toolbox, cable protectors, homemade pencil cases, and art projects.

The Biodegradability of Plastic Straws

The biodegradability of plastic straws

An important issue that needs our attention is the biodegradability of plastic straws. In general, single-use plastic straws are not biodegradable which means that they do not break down naturally over time. Instead, they continue to accumulate in landfills and oceans where they can cause significant environmental damage. However, new biodegradable options are now available which can break down at a much quicker rate and cause less damage to the environment.

Biodegradable straws are normally made from materials such as bamboo, paper, or cornstarch. These straws are designed in such a way that they decompose naturally when they are exposed to air, sunlight, and moisture over time. Depending on how they are produced and used, biodegradable straws usually take weeks or months to break down. Some may even break down quicker than that. These straws are a much more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional and non-biodegradable plastic straws. These straws are increasingly being used in many restaurants and cafes in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of single-use plastics.

Are Plastic Straws Bad?

Are plastic straws bad

The usage of plastic straws is one of the main causes that is contributing to the plastic pollution problem affecting our environment. Plastic straws along with other single-use plastics do not decompose naturally leading to an accumulation of waste in landfills and oceans. They can be mistaken for food by marine animals causing injuries and deaths to the marine animals.

Plastic straws have been found in the stomachs of marine birds, turtles, and fish that mistake them for food and swallow them, causing suffocation and starvation. In order to manufacture plastic straws, the use of non-renewable resources is required. It also generates greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. Furthermore, the disposal of single-use plastic straws can release toxic chemicals into the soil and water which threatens human health.

The best way to reduce the amount of plastic waste due to the usage of plastic straws is to not use them at all. Now you might be wondering if alternatives to plastic straws are available. Luckily plenty of alternatives are available such as bamboo, paper, silicone, and glass straws. As the world is looking forward to a more sustainable future it is essential to reduce the usage of non-biodegradable materials and find alternatives to these straws to fulfill our needs.

Can Plastic Straws Be Recycled?

Can plastic straws be recycled

Plastic straws have been a popular item for many years and are commonly used in restaurants, cafes, and other food settings. These single-use straws are made of polypropylene and this is a type of plastic that is both lightweight and durable. However, this plastic also has a significant impact on our environment as it takes hundreds of years to break down and is often not properly disposed of. This leads to harmful pollution in the air, water, and soil.

Plastic straws can be somewhat recycled but there are some limitations to it. The issue with recycling plastic straws is that they are too small and weigh so less that it is not possible to properly recycle them using traditional recycling methods. As a result, these plastic straws often end up being missed by sorting machines and get mixed with other waste, making the recycling process even more difficult. In addition, the process of recycling plastic straws is energy-intensive and expensive only to increase the challenges of recycling plastic straws.

Proper Ways to Dispose of Plastic Straws

One of the main issues with plastic straws is that it is not disposed of properly. These straws are mainly used for drinking different kinds of liquids such as coffee, cold drinks, and even water. As soon as the liquid is finished, the straw is thrown away instantly. In order to prevent such issues, there are ways to dispose of plastic straws properly such as:

Proper ways to dispose of plastic straws

Recycle the Plastic Straw

One of the most effective ways to dispose of plastic straws is to recycle them. But the main problem is that it is very difficult to recycle plastic straws because of their small and lightweight nature. Despite this, plastic straws can still be recycled by placing them in a container each time the plastic straw is used. If you take a big container then it will take time for the container to fill up but it depends on how often you use plastic straws. Once the container fills up you can seal it by using a tape and then taking it to the local recycling facility.

Reuse the Straw

It can be difficult to recycle the straw but something that is not difficult is to reuse them. There are tons of ways that will allow you to reuse plastic straws such as making DIY home projects, an organizational toolbox, cable protector, homemade pencil case, and art projects. Since there are numerous ways to reuse the straw so the next time before tossing your plastic straw away think of all the possible ways you can reuse it.

Throw it in The Bin

After you are done using the plastic straw, don’t just throw it away in the trash can but put it inside some kind of bag before doing so. Now this bag could be made from plastic, paper, or any other material.  When you will put the used plastic straws in a plastic or paper bag this will prevent it from ending up in landfills or oceans.

Ways to Reuse Plastic Straws

If you are looking for ways to reduce the amount of plastic waste and reuse plastic straws, then some of the creative ideas to get started with are:

Ways to reuse plastic straws

DIY home projects

You can use plastic straws for many household projects. For example, you can use them as a tool to help you create spots, or bubbles when you are drawing or painting. You can also use them to make jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. These straws can be used to make some festive decorations for the holidays by stringing them together to make a garland.

Seedling soakers

You can cut your plastic straws into smaller pieces and fill them with water and use them as a seedling water dispersal tool to save water.

Organizational toolbox

You can use plastic straws to store small items that are difficult to keep organized such as hair pins, hair ties, paper clips, or safety pins. When cut into smaller pieces they can be used as cute containers as well.

Cable protector

Wrap plastic drinking straws around chargers, USB cables, and other cords to prevent them from getting tangled or damaged.

Homemade pencil case

For a fun and practical back-to-school project, you can simply stitch together different colored plastic straws to create a pencil box. They are lightweight, durable, and can last for many years.

Art projects

Plastic straws are great for creating a wide range of art projects, such as mobiles, sculptures, and even prints. As they are lightweight and can be easily arranged, you can explore different configurations and make some truly unique masterpieces.


1. Can plastic straws not be recycled?

It is possible to recycle plastic straws but it is a challenging process since plastic straws are small and light so they cannot fit properly into the recycling machinery.

2. Are reusable straws eco-friendly?

Reusable straws are eco-friendly so they will aid in significantly reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up not only in landfills but in oceans as well.

3. Do plastic straws cause damage to the environment?

Plastic straws can do massive damage to the environment since it is not biodegradable so it doesn’t decompose but only break down into small particles. This results in harmful chemicals being released into the soil, air, and water.

Final Thoughts

Plastic straws can be recycled due to their polypropylene material but it is often challenging to do so. The size, weight, and contamination of plastic straws make them difficult to process and recycle properly. This results in plastic straws being thrown away which contributes to the increasing amount of plastic waste in the environment. The best approach to reducing plastic straw waste is by adopting more eco-friendly alternatives such as paper, metal, or silicone straws. It is essential to prioritize reducing plastic waste caused by using plastic straws regardless of whether they can be recycled or not.


Todd Smith is a trained ecologist with five years of experience in environmental conservation and sustainability. He has a deep passion for promoting sustainable practices and has developed a thorough understanding of the natural world and its complex interconnections.

Leave a Reply