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Japanese firm aims to help clean up ocean with reusable, washable metal straws

Takafumi Tomida is seen with his company's range of washable straws at Tomida Ironworks Inc. in Anpachi, Gifu Prefecture, on June 4, 2019. (Mainichi/Takafumi Watanabe)

ANPACHI, Gifu -- A local metal mold designer and manufacturer has developed and started selling a new drinking implement they're calling the "washable straw."

As the increasing volume of plastic waste has begun to be seen as a problem of global proportions, repeatedly usable straws that are good for the environment is attracting more attention.

Tomida Ironworks Inc. and its representative Takafumi Tomida started developing the implements after he took over the company from his father two years ago. As a firm that engages with resin and plastic press products, he thought devising something that could play a role in solving the problem of microplastics polluting the oceans could be a good opportunity to increase the value of the business.

The washable straws are made using a slightly bent metal mold. Resin is then poured into its curved groove to make the product. The completed straws are shaped in a tree motif that gives them an ecological feel and makes them look rather like a twig.

Their special characteristic is that they can be separated into two pieces, allowing the inside part to be cleaned. Commenting on the product, Tomida said, "The appeal is that you can use it again and again. It's not something you drink from once and throw away. It would be great if this could become a widely used product and help reduce the amount of waste we produce, and also spread awareness about the environment even a little bit."

The straw measures about 20 centimeters long and weighs around 25 grams. They come in four colors: brown, yellow, black and white. An individual straw costs 864 yen including tax, and can be purchased from the Tomida Ironworks' official website at: (in Japanese).

(Japanese original by Takafumi Watanabe, Ogaki Local Bureau)

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