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Tokyo homebuilder launches mass production of environmental friendly wooden straws

Wooden straws developed by homebuilder Aqura Home Co. are seen in this photo. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawaguchi)

TOKYO -- A homebuilder in the Japanese capital has leveraged its construction knowhow to develop mass-production wooden straws, and hopes to promote them as an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic straws.

    The initiative comes amid a global move to do away with plastic straws, which may cause marine pollution and presents a danger to ocean wildlife. According to Aqura Home Co., a custom wooden house builder based in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, the mass production of wooden straws is a world-first.

    The company will begin producing wooden straws using timber from trees felled in the torrential rain and landslides that hit areas of western Japan in July this year. It also aims to use a large amount of timber from forest thinning around the country. Taking inspiration from planed pieces of wood, the firm slices the timber into some 0.15-millimeter-thick sheets and rolls them up into tubes.

    While paper straws, which are attracting attention as a replacement for plastic straws, soon go soft soaking in a drink, the wooden straw does not absorb liquid and also has a warmer look and feel than paper.

    On the other hand, the unit cost remains as an issue for the company. It costs dozens of yen to produce a wooden straw, compared to 0.5 yen for a paper straw and a few yen for a paper one. The company believes that it is possible to reduce the mass-production cost of wooden straws gradually after they become popularized.

    The firm will start deliveries of the straws to the Capital Hotel Tokyu in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward from January 2019.

    An Aqura official said, "We hope that the wooden straws will help protect the environment, and think that straws made from Japanese cedar and cypress could offer foreign visitors a taste of Japanese style."

    (Japanese original by Masahiro Kawaguchi, Business News Department)

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