No Plastic Straws

Shortage of paper straws nudges Dallas restaurant into daring new turf

Shortage of paper straws nudges Dallas restaurant into daring new turf

paper straws
These straws are suddenly hard to get. Photo courtesy of Aardvark

After leading the charge against plastic straws, Dallas restaurant chain Snappy Salads wades into deeper waters with a radical new anti-straw initiative: no straws at all.

Snappy Salads was among the first to ditch plastic straws four years ago, replacing them with paper straws manufactured by Aardvark, the gold standard in paper straws.

Aardvark has enjoyed great success thanks to companies like Snappy Salads, as restaurants, bars, and other facilities reject plastic in favor of paper — so much success that Aardvark has become unable to keep up with demand.

"These are very exciting times at Aardvark as our products are in very high demand from all over the world," a company statement to customers says. "During this period of extreme growth, our lead times to ship have increased to eight weeks depending on the item and quantity.  We thank you for your understanding and advanced planning as we go through these growing pains. New capacity is being added as quickly as possible and we hope to return to shorter lead times in the coming months."

Delays have gone as high as to 12 weeks. Aardvark's global business director David Rhodes says the company is doing its best to expand its output.

"We're shipping all over the world and we’ve seen orders in recent months increase by 20 times," he says. "We are building more machines and adding capacity as fast as we can. We're also trying to keep folks informed about cheap copycat imports from China that pretend to be like Aardvark, but are inferior and fall apart in minutes."

The no-plastic movement has grown as evidence mounts regarding plastic straws' detrimental effects on landfills and coastlines.

Faced with the choice of returning to plastic straws or having no straws at all, Snappy Salads decided to dispense with straws altogether.

"Until we're able to offer paper straws again, our guests will have to take the old-fashioned route and go without or bring their own," says Snappy founder Chris Dahlander.

On June 4, national food-service organization Bon Appétit Management Company was the latest to institute a ban against plastic straws and stirrers companywide in its 1,000 cafés and restaurants in 33 states.

According to a spokesperson, Bon Appetit's Texas clients include the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, LeTourneau University, St. Edward’s University, and several corporate office locations that prefer not to be identified.

Bon Appetit will provide paper straws as an alternative.

Since Snappy Salads started using paper straws in October 2014, Dahlander says that the chain has saved the world from 1.3 million plastic straws.

"Switching from plastic to paper straws did cost more but to us it was about doing the right thing," he says. "This decision was aligned with our mission to leave this world healthier than the way we found it.

And, if you just want to go without a straw altogether — that’s even better for the environment."