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250 U.S. Dunkin' locations test biodegradable straws

WinCup CEO Brad Laporte joins Yahoo Finance's Brooke DiPalma to discuss the company's goal to limit plastic pollution with its new 'phade' straw.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Roughly 300 million tons of plastic litters the world's oceans right now with another 8 million expected to be added this year. One company is trying to do its part to reduce that waste, and it's got some big-name brands coming on board with a solution. Let's bring in Yahoo Finance's Brooke DiPalma for that story. And Brooke, you've got a special guest standing by.

BROOKE DIPALMA: That's right Akiko. Yes, I do. For more on this, I'd like to bring in Brad Laporte. He is the CEO of the cup, lid, and straw manufacturing company WinCup. So Brad, I'd really like to start with the issue at hand. Akiko just mentioned that staggering stat. How much do plastic straws specifically add to this plastic pollution issue, and how has your innovation of the Phade helped to solve that?

BRAD LAPORTE: That's a great question. Nice to meet you, Brooke. So plastic straws are typically very difficult to sort and-- and recycle because of their shape and size. So we went on a quest a few years ago to develop a new straw that has-- that leaves no footprint in the environment.

So we invented what was called Phade Straws, made out of PHA, derived from canola oil, that in essence, as it is either composted or ends up in a bad place, like the ocean, it will still biodegrade to organic matter. The great thing about this straw is it looks, and feels, and performs just like a regular straw, but it goes away.

BROOKE DIPALMA: And Brad, on that point, you know, plastic straws are-- are pretty cheap. They're very accessible for the everyday person. And we've also seen a growing number of small businesses in addition to larger companies like Starbucks use those sip cups, which don't always fit straws in them. So how much does the Phade cost and how do you justify that costs among these businesses?

BRAD LAPORTE: Well, that's a great question. So the Phade is really the most economical way to take care of the environment. It's actually cheaper than some of the-- the environmentally sustainable alternatives like paper, or bamboo, et cetera. So Phade is-- is cheaper than that, so a very economical, very affordable way to take care of the environment.

BROOKE DIPALMA: And recently, you've partnered with Dunkin'. You're currently testing in hundreds of locations this particular straw. What exactly is happening now with that pilot? Do you hope to expand that program and that partnership, and what does this mean for other restaurant chains? Could we see the straw at a McDonald's, at a Starbucks?

BRAD LAPORTE: Well Dunkin'-- Dunkin's been a great partner. Obviously, we're super excited about the Dunkin' trial and a few of their stores. It's going very well. And we're actually in several other areas as well. We're in Walmart under a private label brand. Several-- we're in 67 now distribution channels across the United States. We're actually have-- we eight manufacturing sites so we're able to reach across the whole United States. Even recently, Phade has been seen on one of Disney's properties.

BROOKE DIPALMA: And, of course, over this course of COVID-19 over the past year, we've seen people start to go away from those reusable cups. So have you seen a boost from that in your business, and do you expect that to continue?

BRAD LAPORTE: We do, right? There's a safety aspect of-- of disposables that, you know, especially with COVID and-- and the whole consciousness around safety. So the reality here-- here in America, folks like their coffee to go, like their drinks to go.

So we have seen a boost in certain segments of-- of this, and during the pandemic, for sure. We also have seen, you know, a really focus towards-- a continued focus towards environmentally sustainable products like Phade in-- in today's marketplace, for sure.

BROOKE DIPALMA: Brad Laporte, CEO of WinCup, thank you so much for joining us. Back to you, Zack.

ZACK GUZMAN: All right, Brooke. Appreciate that.