Keep the Questions Coming

Curious to know more? Take a look below and see if there are any questions that we can help answer for you.

How does phade® work?

phade® is made from PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate), a naturally occuring biopolymer which comes from the fermentation of canola oil.  Because it is plant based and comes from nature, it will naturally be consumed by bacteria.  PHA digesting bacteria are found in nearly all natural environments, thus making phade® straws marine biodegradable and home and industrial compostable.  Ultimately, a phade® straw will biodegrade wherever there is a significant presence of bacteria as the straw becomes an energy and food source for the bacteria.

Why did you invent phade®?

We’ve all seen that horrible image of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose. In many ways that image marked a turning point for awareness and alarm of global plastic pollution. It sparked a sense of outrage that something needed to be done about this problem. It marked a turning point for WinCup as well. We knew we could become part of the solution and embarked on a mission to develop an alternative to traditional plastic straws using emerging biopolymer technology, and the phade® straw is the result. New technologies will play a major role in solving global plastics challenges, and the phade® straw is just the first of many PHA-based solutions to come from WinCup. In the same way a straw became a symbol for plastic pollution with the terrible image of the turtle, we hope the phade® straw will become a symbol for the potential of biopolymers like PHA used in phade® to significantly move away from harmful petro-plastics. 

Is phade® harmful to marine life? Will it be harmful if ingested by marine life?

No. Certifications and studies show that phade® is not harmful to marine life. phade® has passed rigorous testing for eco-toxicity as part of its numerous certifications. Further, PHA has been used in several applications where it is intentionally introduced to marine life (as a carrier for antibiotics) and humans (for medical applications). A University study* conducted in 2019 testing small quantities of PHA introduced to both fish and livestock found that fish actually grew larger, faster and with better overall digestive health than marine life that did not ingest PHA.

*Microbial Poly-3-Hydroxybutyrate (PHB) as a Feed Additive for Fishes and Piglets, May 2019, Biotechnology Journal 14(12):1900132 DOI:10.1002/biot.201900132

Isn't it better to just not have or use straws?

WinCup encourages everyone to reduce the amount of single use plastics they use wherever they possibly can.  However, in many instances, these products are critical for safe consumption of food and beverages, or they are critical tools required for consuming liquids.  To the differently abled community, a straw is not just a convenience, it is a necessity.  Our mission in creating phade® was to leverage innovative technology to create a closed loop product that can be used, disposed of properly, and return to nature as compost for new products to complete the circular cycle.  We started with a straw but this innovation will be expanded to other products. This is a critical element to attack the global plastic pollution crisis.

What testing and certifications do you have for phade®?
phade® has been extensively tested and certified by numerous independent labs and third party certification bodies. All certifications and testing data for phade® can be found on the website page below the Q&A section.
How many saltwater tanks did you capture video in?
There were two tanks used; each tank filmed independently of the other
What were the temperatures in the tanks?
Tank one (which is shown in the video) had a temperature of 72-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Tank two ranged between 82 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Did you include marine life in the tanks?
Yes, we included Clown Fish and Snails to both tanks.
Did you follow any testing standards like ASTM?
This was a demonstration to show how the straw biodegrades in a marine environment. We used ASTM D6691 as a guide for some purposes but we did not strictly adhere to it. For example, D6691 provides for a higher testing temperature of 89 degrees Fahrenheit but our tanks were cooler. In addition, we added fish and snails, which ASTM D6691 does not require or allow.
Did any marine life die during the capture of the video?
Sadly, yes. One of the clown fish died in one of the tanks. This often occurs when saltwater tanks are initially set up, and in this case we had an algae bloom that ended up taking one of the fish. However, the snail in that tank lived.
What makes the rocks change color?
Algae. Given we were capturing footage of both tanks 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we needed to have lights on in the area all the time. Algae tends to grow more rapidly in constant lighted conditions. The snails were there to help consume the algae.
Did you have to weight the straw down in the water, or did it naturally sink?
phade® straws naturally sink when they hit the water. They were designed this way for two primary purposes. Straws sinking to the ocean floor cause less harm to marine life. Second, the marine floor has a greater concentration of bacteria. Because it is made from a naturally occuring biopolymer, bacteria consume the phade® straw - actually biodegrading it.
Why did you choose the water temperature you did?
Our goal was to create an environment where marine life could exist and thrive. Biodegradation is impacted by many factors, one of which is temperature. Higher temperatures generally speed up biodegradation. In this demonstration, we wanted to use the lowest temperature possible that would still support healthy marine life.
Isn't the water temperature high relative to average ocean temperatures around the U.S.?
The real key to any biodegradable product breaking down isn't the temperature of the water, but the presence of bacteria. Studies have shown that there are certain geographies where the presence of bacteria in the water in the winter is greater than the presence of bacteria in much warmer climates. In addition, our goal in conducting this demonstation was to run it at the lowest tempperature possible that would support healthy marine life.
Why did you add marine life to the tanks? Marine life is not part of the ASTM standards?
We added marine life to the tanks to create an environment that would represent what would happen if our straw ended up in a marine enviornment. Given marine life is present in the ocean, we wanted to make sure marine life was sustained in our video. In addition, we wanted to be sure that all audiences could clearly see we did nothing to the water to make the video turn out the way it did (i.e adding caustic chemicals or anything to the tank to accellerate the biodegradation). The fish and snails enabled us to show this was a healthy environment for marine life, and that no harmful chemicals were added to the tanks.
Why did you remove the rock in the tank after the straw broke?
When the straw broke, it got caught in the current in the tank created from the water filters. This current pushed the straws back against a rock at the back of the tank. We removed the one rock because it was actually blocking a very large piece of remaining straw from view. Moving the rock enabled us to continue to capture footage of the straws biodegradation in the environment. Had we not moved the rock, it wouldn't have been clear as to when the straw completed its biodegradation.
How were the tanks set up? Was there anything in the set-up of the tanks that was abnormal to how a tank would usually be set?
The tanks were set up as normal saltwater tanks for an in-home acquarium. Tank one temperature averaged 75 degrees Fahrenheit; tank two averaged 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Our goal was to create an environment in which marine life could exist and thrive. In addition, we wanted to be sure the temperatures were below the ASTM standards of 89 degrees Faherenheit as we wanted to be more challenging in this video capture.
Was there any other marine life in the tanks?
Yes, we had snails in each tank as well.
Did the straw sink into place? Does the video show where the straw naturally fell?
We placed the straw at the top of the tank and allowed it to settle to the bottom of the tank. Then we positioned the straw between the two rocks.
What is the colorful film we see on the straw?
Algae. The algae that built up on the rocks also had a tendency to build up on the straw.
Did the algae on the straw speed up the straw's biodegradation?
Algae does not consume the straw, so it's presence on the straw did not have an impact on the speed of the biodegradation. In addition, bacteria does not eat algae, so it would not have impacted the biodegradation.
Will the phade® straw always go away in eight weeks?
The biodegradation of a phade straw is always dependent on the conditions in the specific environment, specifically the presence and amount of bacteria in the environment. Since conditions are always different from one location to another, results will vary. However, we are confident that our straw will biodegrade in a matter of months in conditions where there is the presence of bacteria.
Did you add any chemicals or additives to the water to make the straw go away more quickly?
Absolutely not. We wanted to create a realistic video of the biodegradation process; adding chemicals would have kept us from reaching our goal.
Did the biodegradation leave microplastics in the water?
No. Biodegradation means that the straw completely goes away. The phade® straw is entirely consumed and used by bacteria with only carbon dioxide, water and biomass (which represents the growth and reproduction of the bacteria that consumed the straw) remaining. WinCup has also conducted Raman and NMR Spectroscopy testing of the remaining water from phade® biodegradation testing studies, and we have confirmed that no particles of the straw remained after such testing.
Why does the straw occasionally change positions?
On occasion, the snail bumped into or attempted to crawl across the straw causing slight repositioning. On a couple occasions, the straw was bumped to the ground and reset by technicians. Finally, as the straw biodegraded and got lighter, the current in the tanks from the water filtration system also caused the straw to adjust. This can be seen most notably when the straw breaks in tank 1 and is pushed back under some rocks at the back of the tank.
Did one snail really eat all the algae?
Yes, in tank one, there was one snail, and over a period of a few days it was able to bring the algae levels back to a more normal range.
Why don't I see the snail eating any of the algae on the straw?
The algae on the straws disappeared from the biodegradation process (the process of bacteria consuming the phade straw).
Did the snail eat any of the straw?
No. We have thousands of photographs of both tank one and tank two (a photo was taken every 5 minutes during the 58 day period) and the snails did not eat either straw (in either tank).
Why didn't you use ocean water in the experiment?
Marine life and fish tank specialists do not recommend that real ocean water be used in salt water fish tanks. The salt water for an indoor tank is always created (in a manner that mimics ocean salt water), which was done in these tanks. Our marine life specialist advised that real ocean water would harm the marine life in our experiment. Our goal in this expperiment was to create a healthy environment where marine lilfe could live and to show the straw biodegrade in that environment.
Did you supercharge the water with microorganisms/bacteria?
No. The tanks were set to optimally support marine life. That was clearly communicated by WinCup to Keypoint Intelligence and the Keypoint team executed to that objective.
Please list all water conditions. (temperature, PH level, pump specifics, etc.)
All of that information can be found in the attached report from Keypoint Intelligence. Please refer to the report for this information.
Who produced the video? A scientific third party or WinCup itself? Is that company willing to declare authenticity?
WinCup engaged Keypoint Intelligence, a third party testing expert, to design and oversee the experiment. Keypoint consulted with a marine life expert and professional photographer in designing and setting up the experiment. The tanks were set up at Keypoint's facility and monitored by Keypoint. At the end of the experiment, there were thousands of photographic images from the tanks. WinCup's marketing firm, FINN Partners, used the images to produce the time lapse video. Refer to FINN's statement of authenticity below.
What is the proper way to dispose of a phade® straw? Aren't you encouraging people to dispose of these straws in the ocean?

The proper way to dispose of a phade® straw is through composting.  A phade® straw is home and industrial compostable, so it will completely biodegrade in either environment.  A phade® straw should NEVER be disposed of in a marine environment; however, it was designed to be consumed by bacteria, so in the unfortunate circumstance where a phade® straw might end up in an ocean, it will biodegrade because it will be consumed by the bacteria in the ocean.  

Wincup

Orders placed in California, Washington and Maryland will receive phade products packaged as home and industrial compostable in compliance with applicable laws in those states; information provided about this item does not constitute an offer to sell product labelled or packaged as marine biodegradable in California, Washington or Maryland.