WATCH: Keypoint Intelligence Tests WinCup phade® Straw to End of Life

Time-lapse video shows complete marine biodegradation in just 58 days



Carl Schell


Nobody in the print industry probably ever thought that Keypoint Intelligence would at some point test the biodegradation of a straw in a fish tank. But we used to test many other types of products, sooo…why not biodegradable straws?!


Over the past several months, we worked with WinCup Holdings to prove that its phade® straw—composed of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), rather than petroleum—could biodegrade in a controlled saltwater environment. Not only was that mission accomplished but it happened in just 58 days, making it the world’s first marine-biodegradable drinking straw.


“This project was obviously outside our usual print expertise, but it was an exciting and educational opportunity for us to spread our wings and apply the standards of our product lab test in a new way,” said Pete Emory, Director of US/Asia Research & Lab Services at Keypoint Intelligence. “The end result is that we validated an important claim, for the environment and otherwise, and brought value to WinCup as well as companies and consumers using phade® straws.”


WinCup phade® Straw Test: Day 14 (top) and Day 38


We set up a pair of tanks that had rocks placed in them to provide proper waterflow around the straws. Two clownfish were added to each tank to assist in agitation, along with a snail to work on algae buildup. A couple of weeks later one straw in each tank was positioned across the rocks, then tank conditions were monitored and fish were fed. In short, we replicated an environment where a straw could be left to degrade in nature.


“There were several challenges we had to overcome throughout the course of the test, such as proper configuration of the tanks and maintaining consistent temperatures, not to mention the video aspect,” said Len Wolak, Keypoint Intelligence’s lab primary for the project. “It was fascinating to see the phade® straws biodegrade, by design and as intended, and for us here in New Jersey, it gave the phrase ‘swimming with the fishes’ a whole new meaning.”


Please see the full report for more details and, of course, be sure to watch this short video!