Straw Wars: Footprint Featured in Slate

Originally published on Slate.com:

Troy Swope is CEO of a company called Footprint that hopes to create workable alternatives for every plastic item under the sun. I got a tour of Footprint’s headquarters in Arizona. It’s an enormous building the size of a few city blocks, and it features an on-site metrology lab, a prototyping station, and a toolmaking shop, in addition to its manufacturing floors and warehouse areas. (The Kelle siblings’ entire US Paper Straw operation would fit in the space where Footprint keeps its foosball table and employee cafe.)

Swope got his start as an engineer at Intel, working on the plastic packaging that surrounds expensive microprocessor parts. “At Intel, we were using the most expensive plastic in the world,” said Swope. “It was designed not to outgas”—to leach chemicals—“but it still did. And then one day, I was looking at the plastic wrap around the organic vegetables my wife bought at the grocery store. And I thought, That’s some of the cheapest plastic in the world, and we’re putting it all over our food.”

Footprint doesn’t stop at straws. It’s working on other nonplastic food packaging solutions: yogurt cups, microwaveable meal bowls, disposable utensils, those little flat trays that hold supermarket meat, even six-pack rings (the ones we used to snip so they wouldn’t choke the seals).

– Slate article highlights Footprint’s mission to remove plastic from Grocery stores.

Footprint makes paper straws that Swope is proud of (he boasts about their “hoop strength” and “absorption”), and the company now supplies all the paper straws at Whole Foods and says it’s in the running to eventually supply Starbucks too. But Footprint doesn’t stop at straws. It’s working on other nonplastic food packaging solutions: yogurt cups, microwaveable meal bowls, disposable utensils, those little flat trays that hold supermarket meat, even six-pack rings (the ones we used to snip so they wouldn’t choke the seals).

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