Bubble Tea shops switch to paper straws in response to plastic ban policy

13 May 2021

Bubble tea shops in China have replaced plastic straws with paper ones in response to the 2021 Plastic Ban policy.

The decision led to complaints from over 1.6 million customers.

From February 2021, chain stores such as A Little Tea, HEYTEA and Starbucks have all made the switch. As a result, drink sales have lowered.

The main complaints are that the paper straw changes the original flavour of the drinks and are difficult to poke through the seal, leading to dissatisfaction among milk tea addicts.

Mengmeng, a bubble tea lover, said: “It smells weird and tastes like nail polish. Paper straws made me quit [buying them]”.

“The straw melts in my mouth, especially when the drink is hot. You can’t even finish the whole bottle, as it starts to soften in 5 minutes and feels like you are drinking paper pulp with milk touch,” said Ziqi Jiang, a customer at ChaBaiDao bubble tea shop.

“I used to buy at least one bottle of milk tea per working day but now only two for a week. I didn’t see the point of using paper straws because paper is made from trees. I miss the days with plastic straws.”

Both store owners and customers have found the plastic straw ban difficult.

The main straw replacements are made from paper, PLA, glass and stainless steel- providing a variety of choices for different needs.

Many bubble tea companies such as LELECHA and HEYTEA have started to use PLA degradable straws.

PLA straws offer the best taste, but paper straws remain the favourite of most business owners as they cost less and have longer-lasting quality.

According to a report by Hua’an Securities,  over 28 billion RMB worth of paper straw orders were made in the last four months.

Jiansheng Tang, Secretary General of Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission, said: “No matter if they’re a customer or a company owner, they should be willing to pay for environmental protection.

“The key is to maintain their best experience after their purchase.”


Written by Yuxuan Wang

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