null Skip to main content

Guide to PHA Bioplastic - Polyhydroxyalkanoates

If you’re someone who’s stayed abreast of plastic alternatives, you may be asking what is PHA? PHA is one of the latest bio-based polymers to make waves in the sustainability world. So far, PHA straws appear to be the most popular use for this innovative material, so we’ll take a look at why we need a replacement for plastic and how this material is contributing to greener sipping. 

What is PHA?

PHA, or polyhydroxyalkanoates, is one of the newer bioplastics on the scene offering a 100% renewable beginning-of-life process. It's also gaining popularity due to its incredible ease of compostability compared to other bioplastics like PLA (polylactic acid).

PHA is a bio-based polymer that can be made using plant feedstocks including waste. To create this biopolymer, vegetable oils, sugars, starches, and even methane and wastewater are processed using bacterial fermentation. 

This process mimics what is found in nature. Joining proteins, starch, and cellulose, PHAs are a class of natural materials: they’re polyesters that are naturally synthesized in bacteria. The video below shows a helpful demonstration!

PHA Benefits

  • Versatile, adaptable, and heat- and UV-resistant
  • FDA approved for food contact
  • Functions and performs similar to plastic 
  • Custom-formulated to create many types of plastic resins for different purposes
  • Capable of bonding successfully with materials, such as paper

PHA Degradation & Compostability

How can you dispose of PHA straws? Their end-of-life fate includes various eco-friendly options like home or industrial composting and biodegradation.

Because straws are so lightweight, they are commonly blown out of trash cans and often litter parks, rivers, and oceans. PHA straws will naturally degrade on land or in water, leaving no trace.

How PHA is Being Used for Straws

Because they’re bio-based, home and industrially compostable, and marine degradable, PHA straws are taking the beverage world by storm. Why? Because they look, feel, and work just like conventional plastic straws. But, unlike plastic straws, they don’t harm ecosystems or marine animals by breaking down into micro-plastics like petroleum-based straws. 

PHA Straws

Good Start Packaging's PHA straws start out as canola or soybean seeds. Once harvested, the seeds are crushed and refined into oil. The byproducts of this process are what end up in this material. Our straws are made from Nodax PHA made by Danimer Scientific

In a controlled fermentation environment, soil bacteria work with canola and soy byproducts to create PHA. The end product is heat- and UV-resistant and FDA-approved for food contact. Even better, within 3-6 months the straw will biodegrade completely on land or in the ocean. 

Is PHA Allergen Free?

Yes, while some question this due to the use of soy as a base material, the refined oils of the soy seeds are used and not the soybeans themselves.

Is PHA Used in Skincare Products?

This is an easily confused material due to having a matching acronym. Polyhydroxy acid and Polyhydroxy alkanoate are in fact two different classes of the compound. The former is an acid and the later alkanoate is an ester.

Polyhydroxy acid is popularly used in the skin care industry for gentle exfoliation of skin cells and is similar to alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs or BHAs).

Try PHA Straws for Yourself

Convinced to give PHA straws a try? Great! You’re taking a big step towards ridding our planet of plastic pollution.

We carry a range of individually wrapped PHA strawswide smoothie straws, and even PHA cocktail stirrer straws. Get in touch today for a free sample and to see what this cutting-edge and bio-based polymer is all about.