Local company acquires leading paper straw manufacturer

    Hoffmaster Group Monday, August 6, 2018. (WLUK/Pafoua Yang)

    OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- An Oshkosh-based company now owns the country's primary paper-straw manufacturer.

    Hoffmaster Group, in Oshkosh, makes disposable tableware.

    Hoffmaster closed a deal Monday to acquire Aardvark Straws in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the only U.S. maker of paper straws.

    Within the last year, several cities have banned plastic straws. The move is designed to reduce pollution.

    For nearly six months, Becket's Restaurant in Oshkosh has been trying to use fewer straws and more sticks.

    "If a drink requires stirring, it comes with a stir, if you want a straw, all you have to do is ask," said Becket's owner, Kris Larson.

    Larson says it helps reduce waste and pollution. But with the new deal Hoffmaster signed on Monday, Larson said he's thinking about stocking up with paper straws, "We buy lots of things from them already. I look forward to buying from their new acquisition from them as well, that sounds perfect."

    "Ultimately Aardvark felt this was the best way to grow their company," said Hoffmaster Group's president, Rory Leyden. "There’s no question that the paper straw industry is growing rapidly in demand."

    Leyden told FOX 11, he believes the company's resources will help Aardvark production keep up with the skyrocketing demand.

    "We think we can double the output of the facility in Fort Wayne, over the course of the next six to nine months," said Leyden.

    Leyden said Aardvark's paper straws don't disintegrate, or get soggy. He said it's also naturally degradable, unlike plastic straws.

    "In North America, alone, there are 500 million plastic straws that are used everyday, that’s 500 million plastic straws," explained Leyden.

    Because plastic straws are lightweight, Leyden said it can easily blow into waterways.

    "While we’re not close to the ocean, we’re close to Lake Michigan, which is a fantastic resource for the state," Leyden said.

    And as for some local business owners, they hope to be part of the solution.

    "We're here to make good choices for you, if you want to eat here," said Larson.

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