A viral video of a sea turtle with a plastic drinking straw stuck in its nose was the inspiration behind a Canadian office coffee supply and bar supply success story. In July of 2018, Geet Sheth decided to do something about plastic waste: He founded Green Circle Dine Ware, and started making locally sourced, biodegradable paper straws.
Most paper straws are available through distributors overseas, whose health and safety laws may not match up to Canada’s food safety standards. Sheth cautions, “A lot of the paper straws in the market today are not made of food compliant material and can jeopardize our health and safety. That’s one of the biggest concerns. Most of the straws you see in Canada today, I would say 80 percent of them are coming from overseas, particularly China…they don’t have FDA certification and they’re not biodegradable.”
Sheth adds, “With biodegradable it depends: With the way that the paper is manufactured, that paper may have chlorine in it or the adhesives could have chemicals in it which are not used in Canada that are not regulated overseas.”
The startup began lean, and virtually exploded after he and his business partner, Ravikesh Khadtare opened a booth at the Restaurants Canada Show. Suppliers around Canada and the United States were interested in what this Canadian company had to offer.
Part of its popularity can be attributed to Ontario’s discussion regarding a ban on single-use plastics, following the lead of other countries and cities.