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Reedest raises €3M to replace paper straws with Estonian reed

Ever struggled with a paper straw? Estonian company Reedest plans to produce a million drinking straws from local reeds per day.

Eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics are now everywhere, yet paper straws continue to stir controversy. While more sustainable, they have been criticized for the lack of durability and impracticality. In Estonia, an unusual alternative is in the making.

Reedest, an Estonian company that produces disposable drinking straws from local reeds, secured a €3M investment last year. This funding will be used to develop and scale an automatic production line, with the aim of manufacturing up to one million natural drinking straws per day in Estonia. The market is huge and ripe for expansion — In Europe, people use over 25.3 billion single-use straws every year, according to the most recent estimations.

One million straws a day

Grete Riim, Chief Executive Officer at Reedest, explained that on average, 400 drinking straws can be made from one stalk of reeds. “Thanks to the support of French and Estonian investors, we are developing an automatic production line in Pärnu County, Ahaste Village, to process nearly 2,500 stalks per day. With this volume, we can produce up to a million drinking straws per day in Estonia,” said Reedest CEO, Grete Riim.

According to the plan, large-scale production will reach full capacity in May 2024. Currently, customers can already order directly, in 20–1000 packs. The product is available in two sizes, 14cm and 19cm.


“Reedest’s approach is interested in the field of green trends, and investors are glad to be a part of such production in Estonia,” said the representative of the foreign investors Triinu Bucheton.

The European Union banned plastic straws in all member countries in 2021, yet the paper-made alternatives still has not grown on many. Plus, the health effects are now under suspicion as well. Paper straws assessed by researchers at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, were found to contain more “forever chemicals” – per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS – than plastic.

“The main replacement for a plastic straw is one made out of paper, but this is not user-friendly as it quickly soaks in beverages. There are also reusable straws on the market, but they are often too expensive for hotels, restaurants and caterers. In addition, it can get difficult to maintain reusable straws’ hygiene,” said Riim.

Unique approach

On Reedest’s production line, reeds are processed mechanically, and no additives are used while producing a drinking straw. Therefore, the straw is 100% natural and can be thrown into a biodegradable food waste container after its use. Straw decomposes into compost in less than a year.

The founders of Reedest have experience in the production of natural drinking straws since 2015, when the first known reed drinking straws were brought to the market, named Pillirookõrs. Still, establishing the proper production line took 4 years for the company.

“Since no reed plant is the same in terms of shape, diameter or color, large-scale production requires innovative industrial automation that uses sensors and machine learning algorithms to account for reed variability,” Riim explained.

In order to fulfil its goal — the production of one million disposable straws per day — the company needs to cut reeds on an area of ​​about 200 hectares per year. Estonia, a land of rivers, lakes and bogs, offers plenty of these.

According to a study conducted in 2007, the total area of ​​reeds in Estonia is more than 27,000 hectares. The necessary precautions to ensure sustainable harvesting are taken. Reeds that grow as weeds also need to be cut to ensure the diversity of the biota. Since the reeds are favourable nesting places for birds, Reedest is not cutting during the nesting season.

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