“We want to provide a Myanmar-made alternative for plastic straws”
As alarm bells sound warning us of impending global catastrophes caused by plastic pollution, a homegrown Myanmar business is winning the attention of local consumers and now even has restaurants, bars, cafes as well as individuals adopting their innovative, plastic-free product. Palü Myanmar produces an alternative for the plastic straw: a bamboo substitute.
‘Palü’ is a word taken from the Chin language and locally it refers to the straw made of bamboo which is used to drink the traditional Chin khaung yay (rice wine).
Palü Myanmar’s products are made from 100% natural whole bamboo stalks grown in Myanmar and handmade by local craftsmen.
The idea for Palü came to U Lyn Minn-Din, founder of Palü Myanmar when he was traveling around Southeast Asia with his partner. When they were in Bali and Cambodia, cafes and restaurants in particular were very environmentally conscious, encouraging use of metal, glass and bamboo straws instead of disposal plastic wares. “Noticing this, the main question we asked ourselves is ‘Why can’t we have this in Myanmar?’ so when we got back to Yangon, I just decided to try it.
What we want to do is to provide a Myanmar-made alternative to plastic straws. We can try to reduce the use of single-use plastics and reduce trash and at the same time create jobs and opportunities for Myanmar people,” U Lyn Minn-Din said.
Currently, Palü Myanmar is producing bamboo straws only but the future holds plans to expand the product line. The demand for the straws is now high, which is a good indicator of peoples’ willingness for a better, plastic-free environment in the future. Believe it or not, at the start of the business, Palü Myanmar did not undergo any promotion plans or advertising strategies to bring the message of the product to the market.
“I had not planned to launch yet but the demand was huge so we took the opportunity and supplied the bamboo straws as the orders came.”
Now, the demand for the straws is high. Packs of ten bamboos straws sell for K10,000 and include a cleaning brush. Founder Lyn recounted his experience of some customers commenting that the price was a little expensive and he always would reply that they had forgotten the straws are reusable.
“The whole idea is that the more times you reuse them, the less trash you produce.” Regarding quality control of these bamboo products, Palü Myanmar has very strict practices and a careful selection process. He oversees three team members who supervise and carry out the straw production and quality control as well as packaging standards.
“We hand pick all of the straws and only provide straws that we feel are up to scratch. So far we have not had any issues or complaints,” Lyn said.
Palü Myanmar is more than just a business venture: Lyn wants Palü Myanmar to play a major role in providing natural and biodegradable alternatives to plastic in Myanmar.
“I really also want to stress that the straws are reusable many times over as long as you take good care of them. Having anything that is single-use, even if it is biodegradable, still causes issues with trash. We feel that single-use items should be avoided as much as possible to help minimize trash. Even though we provide an alternative to plastic straws, I would also recommend people avoid using straws whenever possible – even our bamboo straws – because the less things we use, the less trash we produce,” said Lyn.
Presently, they supply the products in bulk all over the country but individual straw packs can be bought at Union Bar & Grill, Burma Bistro, Hla Day and Nourish Café in Yangon. Palü Myanmar plans to add more businesses to the said list of retail outlets. Individual persons or businesses in other parts of the country can also contact Palü Myanmar directly through firstname.lastname@example.org for orders.
“So far the business is going well and growing. The demand is very high so we are currently doing our best to manage the high volume of orders. We hope to soon add other products to our inventory as well.”