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Chicago Straw Company Thrives, Despite Anti-Straw Movement

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago company hopes to thrive, despite making a product under fire this summer. Plastic drinking draws have recently been seen as a public enemy, according to many environmentalists.

Machines spit out straws at a dizzying rate inside a factor on Chicago's far South side. The machines produce so many straws every year, Bob Beavers III, the Chairman of Best Diamond Plastics, says "the number of straws we produce begins with a b."

Best Diamond Plastics is a company that has seen an uptick in business, despite the anti-straw movement.

"Some of our competitors have turned off their straw machines. We've seen an increase in volume because there's no viable alternative," Beavers said.

Environmentalists point to images like the one showing some of the 500 million straws used every day.

"By 2050 we'll have more plastic in the sea than fish living in it," NYC Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr. stated in May 2018.

Some of the biggest corporations are taking notice and taking a stand by banning eliminating plastic straws altogether.

Mark Tolliver, the President of Best Diamond Plastics, believes his company has an answer to the straw dilemma that could be in your drink in the coming months.

"Probably only 5-6 pellets will make a straw," he said. "Straws are wrapped in paper. We have a product that will work and not hurt the environment."

The old-fashioned straw can take up to 200 years to disappear, but Best Diamond Plastics says its new version contains an additive that will allow the straw to break down in just two years.

"I have grandchildren, too, and they need a planet to grow up on, too," Tolliver said. "Look at it as an opportunity to grow and improve a product made here in Chicago."

While straws are a convenience for most people, advocates for the disabled say for many people, straws are a necessity, making it possible for them to drink.

Paper straws lost popularity decades ago because they do not perform as well as plastic, cost much more, and have their own environmental concerns.

Best Diamond has grown from one straw-making machine to 13 in its 10 years of existence. It is a family owned business that employs 75 people. With its new straw that will degrade quickly, Best Diamond hopes to increase its sales even more.

CBS 2 reached out to the Shedd Aquarium, which is fighting against plastic straws. While the Shedd says it celebrates innovative solutions, it can't comment on whether Best Diamond Plastic's alternative is, indeed a better option.


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