Plastic straws aren’t at the peak of their popularity. In the UK, the Queen herself has banned them from the royal estates, encouraging various British corporations to follow suit; and the government is set to ban all single-use plastics, with a similar proposal coming from the EU. Stateside, some areas are considering doing away with plastic straws and certain organisations have taken action.
For Mika Salomäki, the wake-up call was seeing a viral video of a turtle having a plastic straw pulled out of its nose. The heartbreaking footage made him think: is there really nothing we can do about this?
Fortunately, Salomäki happens to be someone with a background as an inventor and connections in the packaging industry. He decided it was time for a whole new package.
“The regular juice boxes with straws are quite impractical,” he says. “For example, when I go to the woods with my six-year-old son, the wind might catch the plastic wrapping of the straw, and the juice spills easily if the package is accidentally squeezed. I figured the concept should be reinvented.”
The idea came from who else but the Queen herself. If she can skip a straw, why can’t the rest of us?
Salomäki’s brainchild is called Skip a Straw, which is also a registered trademark of a company called Her Majesty’s Drinking Box. The package contains no loose parts, and it’s stiff enough for children to grab without creating wet spots on the car seat.
Incidentally, Salomäki also happens to work in patenting. Thus, he isn’t willing to disclose other details of the design or material choices before all the red tape is 100 per cent over with.
“All I can say is that the solution is compatible with current production materials and methods.”
However, some lucky ones have seen and tested the product first hand. Salomäki tells that in a consumer study conducted by Her Majesty’s Drinking Box, a 3D presentation of the solution beat traditional juice packages by a clear margin.
On top of this, the innovation has convinced Business Finland to fund both product development and internationalisation. According to Salomäki, there are plenty of ongoing talks with prospective clients, mainly big beverage industry players both in Finland and abroad.
James Bond to the rescue
Her Majesty’s Drinking Box isn’t planning on manufacturing the packages in its own factory. Instead, it’s searching for licensees who’d use the solution in their own production.
Salomäki strongly believes that the demand is global and urgent, not least due to changing regulation in the EU and elsewhere.
“Our target market: the world,” he says and laughs. “Of course, we’ll first start from Europe, but eventually we’ll hopefully be present everywhere.”
The company, founded by Salomäki and his colleague and mentored by a packaging industry professional, is far from finished with its innovation process. Despite the understandable mysteriousness around the firstcomer, the range is set to grow.
“We’re talking about ecological products that could be used in cafés and burger joints, for example,” Salomäki says, but then firmly shuts his mouth about further details.
However, there’s still one question that needs to be asked. Will Her Majesty ever be seen with a Skip a Straw in hand?
“We did write her a letter to formally ask for permission to call our company Her Majesty’s Drinking Box. Too bad we forgot to add the return address. Maybe James Bond could lend a hand to the Queen?”
Good News from Finland is published by Finnfacts, which is part of Business Finland.