Food-Safe Paper Straws & Adhesive Regulations

In many areas throughout North America, consumers and regulators demand that those in the food service industry replace plastic straws with paper straws. Unlike plastic straws, paper straws need food-safe adhesive to hold their shape, and that adhesive needs to perform well too. No one wants a straw that falls open after a few minutes of use. Paper straws should last at least two to three hours; more is better. 

Also, no one wants a straw made with adhesives that aren’t food safe. So, you need to select an adhesive that follows food safety regulations and will hold your straw together. 

Relevant Adhesive Regulations 

You should understand the relevant adhesive regulations in your area and where you plan to sell straws, including: 

  • United States’ FDA 176.170 
  • European Union and UK BfR XXXVI 
  • Health Canada (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) 

Regulations mandate that the paper straws be safe to submerge in liquids without releasing chemicals for the user to ingest. However, you should also care about the sensory qualities of the adhesive. It should not have a smell or a taste.  

Water-based adhesives, when correctly formulated, can offer the safety and performance you are looking for. Proper curing will ensure you get the full value from these adhesives. Water-based PVA glue is an especially strong option and can be formulated to meet the FDA Food Contact Suitability Determination. 

Bond Tech Solutions can help you choose a suitable glue or create a unique formulation to help meet the demands of your beverages, whether your straws need to stand up to hot liquids, carbonated liquids, or other challenges. 

Other Paper Straw Decisions 

When manufacturing your paper straw, you also have the choice of paper type and colour. Of course, paper weight, materials and dye will impact your adhesive decision, so it is best to make these decisions together to ensure the best performance of your product. 

Your adhesive will also have to conform to your needs for equipment, curing time and application method. It is a complicated decision that we can help with. 

Can You Recycle Paper with Adhesive on It? 

Beyond the safety and quality of the bond, there is a third demand on paper straw adhesives: recyclability or decomposition. After all, the movement to paper straws is about sustainability.  

As such, the adhesive should still allow the paper to be recycled or, if not decompose to truly alleviate the concerns of those in the paper straw movement. Some adhesives will still allow the paper to be recycled if the recycling plant has the appropriate equipment. We can explore your options for making a paper straw that is recyclable or, at the very least, compostable. 

Bond Tech Industries can help you understand any adhesive regulations and choose the best adhesive type and delivery method for your specific application. Whether you are in the food service or food packaging industry, reach out to us to discuss your adhesive options with a professional, we would be happy to help. 

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