SA student, wins edible straws prize

Jenna Etheridge Correspondent
There is nothing more “sucky” than when a paper straw collapses while you’re trying to sip your drink. So a Stellenbosch University student decided to create an edible straw that would allow people to enjoy their drinks and still be environmentally-conscious.

Leila Siljeur (19) a second-year Chemical Engineering student, told News24 her idea came about while in an entrepreneurship session with her mentor at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation.

“Paper straws are useless. After five minutes, you’re eating paper,” she said on Tuesday between classes.

“I remember thinking this is so backward and we really need to move forward.”

After long sessions of strategising with her mentor, she set up a team of eight female students and started researching and playing around with different binding, emulsifying and deglazing agents.

“I experimented again and again until I got something that actually worked.”

And so Eat Me straws was born — with Siljeur as the sole owner of the business.

She has three ranges — regular, vegan and health — and the texture mimics that of liquorice. The vegan uses a plant-based protein, while the health has fruit flavours with zero sugar.

Siljeur said that they had been selling very small batches.

With the niche market in Stellenbosch, the mixed berry vegan straw was the most popular. Children loved the flavour of the strawberry and chocolate straws.

Alcohol infused straws

There was also the option of an alcohol infusion straw, which could be used at bars or restaurants.

“I was experimenting yet again and there are not a lot of preservatives that are readily available for a student to get over the counter at the pharmacy,” Siljeur said with a laugh.

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