DURBAN - Entrepreneur Leila Siljeur who is a second-year Chemical Engineering student at Stellenbosch University (SU) has bagged a massive cash prize for her edible straws business.
Moved by a Facebook post of a sea turtle with a plastic fork stuck in its nose, Leila Siljeur (19) felt she had to do something to help reduce plastic pollution. She decided to design her own brand of edible and environmentally friendly straws. She won R50 000 for her invention in a recent Allan Gray Orbis Foundation National Jamboree.
Her business which is registered under the name Eat Me Straws was trading informally since 2018 but officially formalised her business in July 2019.
Eat Me Straw's edible straws come in three ranges – regular, health and vegan – and don’t become mushy when in contact with a wet substance. She believes this is an improvement on what has been done thus far with edible straws. "Even though companies are producing biodegradable straws, some still end up in the ocean posing a threat to marine life," said Siljeur.
She said that when she started designing the straws she played around with different binding, emulsifying and deglazing agents because she didn’t want sticky straws that could affect the taste of the customer’s drink. She points out that the texture of the straws is a mixture between liquorice and dry fruit.