Mickey Gois said launching his Edmonton-based paper straw manufacturer was more a passion to help the Earth than to capitalize on the niche market.
But with the production of 1.5 million paper straws a day and a recent agreement with a distributor, the business aspect for Royal Paper Industries Ltd. is looking positive as well. The company is trying to do its part in addressing plastic pollution by creating eco-friendly straws that can operate just like those made of plastic, with customization and branding included.
“There are so many straws in the landfill, so much plastic can get wasted,” said Gois, president of the west Edmonton business. “Eventually it goes to the sea, marine life are getting affected … so we thought, ‘Why don’t we go into this and save the Earth?’”
Gois said the company, which started producing the straws in March, is one of the first paper straw manufacturing companies in Canada and wants to be a reliable resource for local Edmonton businesses and restaurants looking to make the switch.
Seven machines run inside the factory on a daily basis using food-grade biodegradable paper to manufacture about six straws per minute. What makes the business stand out, Gois said, is its ability to customize and create “vintage straws” for any occasion. This includes colour-themed straws — such as green swirls for St. Patrick’s Day — or multicoloured straws using food-grade adhesive from a Toronto-based supplier.
As well as bedazzling the look of the straw, Gois said Royal Paper has machines to individually wrap straws as well as brand them with company details — just like in the plastic straw market.
After recently signing on with a distributor to market the paper straws to a variety of customers, Gois said they will be hiring 10 more employees to ramp up production, doubling the amount of current staff. Working through the distributor, Gois said he doesn’t know himself where exactly the company’s straws are being sold.
“We’ve been getting inquiries, just got inquiries from Calgary,” he said. “Paper straws is a big market.”
A key reason for the spike in interest is the societal shift to paper straws to help the environment. Many restaurants are joining the movement to turn away from plastic straws and Royal Paper wants their business. And Gois hopes his company will help this trend’s growth across the country.
“We want all of Canada to help save the Earth,” Gois said. “Use paper straws instead of plastic.”