A solution to the plastic straw problem? 

July 2, 2024
Bay Plastics Machinery President Jason Forgash has devised a cutting system for straws so they can be collected and recycled.

By Bruce Geiselman 

On a trip through an airport, Jason Forgash treated his children to frozen smoothies. Unfortunately, the paper straws the restaurant furnished soon turned into unappetizing mush, and the half-full smoothies ended up in the trash. 

Forgash thought there had to be a better solution to concerns about plastics pollution than forcing consumers to use paper straws that begin dissolving while still in use. 

“We need to do something to keep plastic straws available and still feel good about the environmental impact we’re having,” Forgash said. “I haven’t met a person yet who says, ‘I really love my paper straw.’” 

The solution is to develop a means for consumers to conveniently recycle their plastic straws, Forgash said. 

Forgash is president of Bay Plastics Machinery, a Bay City, Mich., a company that manufactures pelletizers, water baths and conveyors. He has developed a straw cutter that slices used straws, most commonly made of PP, into small pellet-size pieces. He referred to the device as “our Keep Plastic Straws in America” system. 

His idea is to sell the straw cutters to bars and restaurants that furnish plastic straws so that consumers, when finished, can cut up their used straws. 

“The [cut] straws will fall into a bag that has a shipping label on the bag,” Forgash said.

Once the bag is full of sliced straws, the restaurant would send it to a recycler. 

“It’s a valuable product that is just being trashed today,” he said. 

Forgash said he envisioned restaurants installing the devices and trying to make them fun to use. 

“I’m thinking of a fast-food chain restaurant where kids can go in and put the straw in the clown’s face before we leave,” Forgash said. “It would be a fun thing for them to do. Or my wife is going to grab a bunch of them from home that we saved, and instead of throwing them away, the next time we go, we’re going to recycle them through the clown’s face. That way, we feel good about using plastic straws wherever we’re doing it, and we’re not contributing to waste in landfills.” 

If anything goes wrong with a straw slicer, it would likely be in the cutting chamber, which is designed to be easily removed and returned to Bay Plastics Machinery for repair. In the meantime, the owner could put a spare on. It attaches with magnets and easily snaps into place, Forgash said. 

Forgash conceded that the straw slicer is “a bit of a novelty,” but he said he sees the need for it. 

Bay Plastics Machinery, Bay City, Mich., 989-671-9630, www.bayplasticsmachinery.com