How the leftover fibres from tequila production have become eco-friendly straws
Plastic straws have become the poster child of the environmental movement banning single-use disposable products, and these days you are far less likely to see a restaurant or hotel bartender dunk one into your piña colada.
Alternatives have sprung up in their place, each with their upsides and downsides: metal straws are reusable but hard on the teeth, cardboard ones are biodegradable but easily become soggy and gross. One of the most recognizable spirits brands in the world has just found an ingenious and sustainable solution.
Tequila brand Jose Cuervo Tradicional just unveiled a biodegradable drinking straw made from upcycled agave fibers. Starting next year, millions of these straws will be rolled out at bars, restaurants and Jose Cuervo events across the US and Mexico to reduce consumption of plastics. That’s right, soon you’ll be able to sip your margarita or paloma through a straw made from remnants of the very same material that was fermented and distilled to make the booze for your drink.
The agave-based straws have a mouthfeel and texture similar to that of plastic straws and replace around a third of the polymers. Once discarded, the agave straws are consumed by microorganisms and will fully biodegrade in between one-to-five years in normal landfill conditions. The straws are the first project of the Agave Project, Cuervo’s initiative to create a circular economy in the tequila industry and show their continued commitment to the land and people of Tequila and Mexico.
“The Jose Cuervo agave-based straws are sustainable... because not only do they biodegrade 200 times faster than regular plastic straws, but they also require less resources in their creation,” says Ana Laborde, CEO and founder of BioSolutions Mexico and PENKA, which developed the straws in partnership with Cuervo. “Starting with agave, a plant that requires little water and is a byproduct of the tequila industry, the straws use less carbon and limit the use of petroleum-based polymers.”
It takes around six years for an agave plant to mature enough to be harvested for tequila production, and this is one creative way Cuervo is demonstrating the company’s commitment to utilize the agave fibers that remain after the distillation process is complete.
This is drinking you can feel good about.