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Illinois plastic straw-maker plans for growth even as companies and cities ban its products

A Chicago-based plastics company has seen an increase in orders for straws, despite a trend by companies to ditch the plastic straws to help protect the environment. (Olivier Morin/ AFP/Getty Images)

Big cities and major brands have been giving plastic straws the boot in recent months, but one plastics company in Illinois said it's seeing growth and opportunity in its future, WBBM-TV reported.

Chicago-based Best Diamond Plastics' 13 straw-making machines kick out at least three times as many straws annually as there are people living in the U.S.

“The number of straws we produce begins with a b," chairman Bob Beavers III told WBBM.

Environmentalists are hopeful that single-use plastics, such as straws and stirrers, will soon become extinct.

What's the opportunity?

The company said it has seen an increase in straw orders recently.

Beavers told WBBM that some of its competitors have bailed out of the straw production industry. Those companies would include Starbucks, American Airlines, and others that have vowed to ditch plastic straws, which can reportedly take 200 years to decompose.

Best Diamond believes it has a solution that will satisfy the thirst of straw-lovers and environmentalists alike.

"We have a product that will work and won't hurt the environment," Mark Tolliver, president of Best Diamond Plastics, told WBBM.

The new straws would be made from about five or six plastic pellets that have an additive that allows the product to break down in about two years.

“I have grandchildren, too, and they need a planet to grow up on, too,” Tolliver said. “Look at it as an opportunity to grow and improve a product made here in Chicago.”

How many plastic straws are used each day in the U.S.?

No one really knows how many straws are used by Americans each day, but a popular number cited by media outlets and environmentalists is 500,000.

However, that statistic was estimated by Milo Cress, a then-9-year-old in 2011, who started a project called Be Straw Free, according to Time magazine. He started researching the number of straws produced by calling straw manufacturers and asking them to estimate the number of straws used each day in the U.S.

(H/T: WBBM-TV)

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