Straws get a sip of standardization

by Sandrine Tranchard on
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Two glasses of water with a yellow drinking  straw and fruits in each glass

Colorful, functional and fun, both kids and adults love them. Billions of drinking straws are produced each year; yet despite their worldwide use, plastic (polypropylene) straws had never been the subject of standards and specifications.

A recently published International Standard, ISO 18188:2016, Specification of polypropylene drinking straws, will provide general requirements for dimensions and performance properties of plastic straws. This will help manufacturers to produce consistent, quality products.

The first people to use straws would have been the Sumerians in the fourth millennium B.C., probably to drink beer. Some straws were made of gold set with the precious blue stone lapis lazuli; others were made of paper or grass. Today, drinking straws are made of plastic and are used to drink different kinds of beverages.

Whether you are drinking a fruit juice in a carton, a cocktail in a glass or a milkshake in a tumbler, straws have different shapes to suit the glass and drink they go into. ISO 18188 covers the whole range: straight, flexible, extendable, spoon-shaped intended for slushes, or with a sharp tip intended for insertion through film-sealed containers, all these shapes find proper specifications.

The standard specifies that the plastic must conform to the food contact requirements of the market. Plastic straws have to show their resistance to hot and cold temperatures and bend without rupture.

ISO 18188 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 61, Plastics, Subcommittee SC 11, Products, whose secretariat is held by JISC, the ISO member for Japan.

ISO 18188:2016 is available from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.