Reed straws manufactured in Saaremaa

Reeds used to manufacture straws.
Reeds used to manufacture straws. Source: ERR

Reeds plaguing Saaremaa beaches might now become the island's Nokia instead. Just three years ago, the all-knowing Google did not produce any search results for drinking straws made from reeds. The islanders started manufacturing them and hope to reach a production volume of half a million straws this year.

It is supposedly the best time for cutting reeds. A part of reeds cut on the islands of Saaremaa and Muhumaa will be used to make biodegradable drinking straws that no one had heard of three years ago, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

"I searched Google for 'reed straws' when we first started out and got no results back," said Grete Riim, CEO of Suckörs.

A few hundred thousand reed drinking straws are manufactured right now, while ambitions go well beyond that.

"We must reach a production capacity of two million straws soon. We have a major partner in France," Riim said.

Because use of plastic drinking straws will be banned in Europe this year, four Saaremaa companies that manufacture reed straws hope that their products will be used next to alternatives made of paper and bamboo. No fewer than 36 billion drinking straws are used in Europe every year.

Saaremaa also has the world's first automated reed straw production line. While more development is needed, the company hopes to manufacture three million straws with the production line in the future.

"We knew from the first that we would not get far making them by hand. In order to replace plastic straws with reed alternatives, a production line is needed. And here it is functional today," said Ailet Õis-Saar, head of development at OÜ Sutu.

Most reed straws manufactured in Saaremaa have been exported to major European countries, with the first shipments sent across the ocean. The Saaremaa innovation has now made its way into all-knowing Google.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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