As restaurants across the country make the switch to paper straws, the Oshkosh-based Hoffmaster Group, a disposable tableware company has purchased Aardvark Straws, the county’s only paper straw producer.
Andy Romjue, president of the Hoffmaster Group explained the move to Local 5.
“Plastic straws are a two billion a year industry,” he said. “As that starts to transition to being paper, this will give us an opportunity to be in a leadership position.”
According to Romjue, Hoffmaster Group plans to speed production of the paper straws to keep up with demand.
“We’re really going to put a ton of time and resources into getting the production levels up,” he said, “so it can match what is an unprecedented consumer demand.”
That plan is welcome news to Kris Larson, owner of Becket’s, a restaurant along the waterfront in Oshkosh.
“It’s been a little hard to get paper straws as people have been making the shift,” Larson told Local 5. “So if they can help Aardvark make straws more quickly, that would be helpful for everybody.”
Becket’s does not currently offer paper straws, instead, Larson says that about eight months ago, the restaurant stopped handing out plastic straws with drinks. Drinks that require stirring come with a biodegradable wooden stirring stick, and plastic straws are available upon request.
“We haven’t kept formal records,” Larson said, “our best guess is about 10 percent of people ask for a straw, so we’re using 90 percent less straws right off the bat.”
Larson added that Becket’s would be interested in making the switch to paper straws with Hoffmaster’s recent acquisition.
“We like local things as much as we like good ecological things,” he said.