Compostable and biodegradable straws come to campus

Campus Sustainability Office September 2, 2021
A set of Phade straw boxes
Image courtesy of

As part of Cornell's low-waste efforts, Cornell Dining has introduced compostable and biodegradable straws derived from canola oil to customers in dining halls across campus.

Single-use straws made of traditional plastic create waste that cannot be recycled and often ends up in marine and soil waste streams.  Although reusable straws and choosing to drink without a straw have become more mainstream in recent years, having straws available is important for consumer choice and accessibility for those who need a straw to drink.  

A more sustainable solution helps Cornell Dining meet this need.  In 2020, Dining chose to introduce Phade straws - a highly acclaimed single-use, sustainable straw which comes individually wrapped.  The straws are marine and soil biodegradable, meaning even waste that may end up in the ocean will break down and not create a long-term pollution problem.

The company also claims the straws can be composted in at-home or industrial-sized composting facilities.  As the company website states, "Products used for minutes shouldn’t be made to last 200 years or more—and now they aren’t."

Phade earned an award for Standout in Sustainable Solutions by the National Restaurant Association last year.  You have likely seen Phade straws in BRB eateries such as Trillium and Libe Café, but they will soon be in all Cornell eateries instead of traditional plastic straws. This replacement is another step towards zero waste on our campus. 


This story written by Erin Fox, Sustainability Specialist, Campus Sustainability Office