The Silicone Straw Company

Charlotte Walsh, Founder of The Silicone Straw Company, is on a mission to make it easier for families to live greener. Charlotte lives with her family in Grassington and along with the holidaymakers loves to spend sunny days down by the river with her children – picnicking and paddling. But sometimes the aftermath isn’t always so picturesque: Plastic bottles, coffee cups, sandwich wrappers and straws wash downstream.

Seeing the impact single use plastics can have on the area got her thinking – how could she use her 15 years of manufacturing experience to make being green that little bit easier? So, she came up with a simple mission – to create convenient alternatives to single-use plastic items. The products are beautifully designed and made in the UK using the highest quality food-grade silicone. ‘For me it was about creating products that allowed people to do the right thing without noticing’ says Charlotte ‘and even better if the result was a better experience than people were used to’.

Charlotte’s favourite example is the McDonalds straw.

“In a desperate attempt to reduce their single use plastic footprint, McDonalds now use large paper straws’. But that’s not the full story argues Charlotte. ‘McDonalds have forgotten the user experience. These straws feel funny on your tongue, they go soggy if they’re left in the drink too long and young children just chew the end of them.”

Charlotte thinks putting the user experience first will result in better quality sustainable products which will have a greater overall benefit for the planet in the long run. Taking this approach has served the Silicone Straw Company well. After months of design the Company started small with a single batch of reusable straws, but these quickly sold to Booths supermarkets which meant Charlotte could extend the range and now offers a full rainbow of straws and travel tins so customers can more easily take their straws out.

Charlotte met Kris Keighley in the early stages of setting up the business, meeting initially for a 1:1 drop in session but drew upon the expertise of a wide range of services from the Innovate UK Edge team including Intellectual Property advice when registering a trademark, searching for new suppliers as demand for the product grew and more retailers came on board. As the company grew, the team assisted to secure a grant to assist with stock management, marketing collateral and IT equipment. When Silicone Straws had its first order from overseas our exporting advice was on hand to provide guidance on the documents she’d need to ensure her shipment got to her customers without issues.

The fledgling company has gone from strength to strength during the last 3 years and has saved around 2 million single use straws from being sent to landfill illustrating the benefit of reuse over recycling. Every supply chain has an impact on the planet and small value items like this are often shipped half-way around the world to be used once and then thrown away. Buying something that can be used over and over again therefore multiplies the benefit many times over. The company now has its products stocked in Booths, Waterstones, Oliver Bonas, over 200 independent stores, and made it to the Finals for the Giftware Association Gift of the Year Awards 2023 for Ethical & Sustainable Gifts and Gifts under £15.

The business has plans for further product development in 2024 with two new markets to move into, with the view to improve the experience of using drinking straws, cut waste and encourage people to move away from single use items. Identifying market opportunities with Innovation is integral to growth, if you’d like to speak with an Innovation Growth Specialist from Innovate UK Edge, email

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