The Turtleneck Straw®- Story
The founders - from the stainless-steel industry to the reusable straw
Hi! We are Helmut and Philip, the managing directors of Turtleneck GmbH i.G.
Helmut runs a medium-sized family business based in Heppenheim on the beautiful Bergstrasse. Here he develops high-quality components made of stainless steel for various applications and industries. Philip is a student of media and business psychology in Frankfurt.
Sustainability connects the generations!
During a family vacation together in summer 2019, it became clear to us once again that we need plastic-free alternatives! Even the Mediterranean is not spared from pollution. We noticed this during a walk together. Garbage bags, disposable dishes and plastic straws are now part of almost every beach landscape. This sad truth became our motivation. We asked ourselves why people buy single-use products to which there are already alternatives? The answer to this question arguably lies in convenience. With almost every alternative you have to sacrifice something – including drinking straws. Some soften, others cannot be bent and the next can break. This was also noticeable during a later visit to the hotel bar when there was little more than wet mush left of the paper straw. With this in mind, we drove back home. We didn’t have a concrete plan yet, but the goal was to find plastic-free alternatives without having to sacrifice comfort!
Where there is a will, there is a way!
Once again, the well-known saying “Where there is a will, there is a way!” turns out to be correct. Back at the company, Helmut reported on his experiences in the Mediterranean. Everyone could understand this problem and the solution was not long in coming. In the same week Helmut and his development team (Jonathan Noack, Matthias Jahn and Thomas Münch) came up with the idea of converting a stainless steel cable protector into a drinking straw. The highlight: The cable protection is made of flexible stainless steel! Only the diameter, length and shape had to be adapted to that of a drinking straw. Philip was always involved in this process and came up with clever suggestions for the design. In November 2019 the time had come, the first prototype was ready.
the fight against single-use plastic
With the invention of the Turtleneck Straw®, our development team reacted to two very current problems: The environmental pollution caused by disposable plastic and the EU ban on plastic straws.
Plastic pollution is still one of the world’s number one environmental problems:
In order to counteract the pollution of the environment by single-use plastic, the European Union issued in 2018 an EU-wide ban on single-use plastic products starting 2021 – which also includes the until now indispensable plastic straw.
This ban on disposable straws poses major problems for the catering industry, people with disabilities and retirement homes, who in their everyday life are inevitably dependent on these flexible plastic straws and now have to find practicable and above all bendable alternatives to disposable straws.
Sustainability means flexibility
With these numbers in mind, our development team quickly established two facts …
On the one hand:
Change has to happen now, before it’s too late.
On the other hand:
Sustainability means flexibility
Our vision is to make a contribution to a plastic-free and sustainable life with our Turtleneck Straw®.
We know that many people are now thinking about what world they want to leave behind for future generations and are trying to make their lives more sustainable. The biggest hurdle is that sustainability is often associated with sacrifice. This often prevents a sustainable lifestyle. But it is precisely this flexibility that we need in order to make change possible in the first place – a basic idea that has also flowed into the bendable and therefore flexible part of our reusable straws.
The goal when developing the Turleneck Straw® was to create a flexible and reusable alternative to plastic straws that should meet all the standards of a conventional plastic straw and thus efficiently combine sustainability and lifestyle. Thus, our development team noticed two things early on: on the one hand, straws made of glass, macaroni, paper, bamboo and metal already offer a variety of sustainable alternatives to plastic straws. But each of the materials used has weaknesses and is not bendable, only available straight or statically bend. On the other hand, they also noticed that sustainability and a sustainable lifestyle are often associated with a sort of sacrifice – be it in terms of comfort, function or design. They wanted to solve precisely these problems with the development of the Turtleneck Straw®. The idea was based on the stainless-steel pipe of our electric heating mats, which they continued to develop until they found the optimal straw shape. The use of our flexible stainless-steel pipe for this reusable straw had several advantages for you: it eliminated all weaknesses such as cleaning, break resistance or reduced taste neutrality, one of which all straw alternatives developed so far had, and also allowed the construction of a straw with a flexible mouthpiece, to be used straight OR bend, just as it is needed. In this way, it not only completely replaces the previously indispensable plastic straw, but also combines sustainability and convenience and function. And by the way, it also looks chic!
And our success proves us right – for example the extremely positive response on our first trade fair participation in Düsseldorf in January of 2020. Meanwhile, the demand for our Turleneck Straw ® is growing steadily and we are pleased that we already have bars, restaurants, hotels and ice cream parlors, retirement homes and private households using our alternative to plastic straws and thereby doing our part to avoid disposable plastic.
The advertising industry has also discovered our Turtleneck Straw® as a unique advertising medium due to its elegant, timeless design and its unique flexibility (i.e.: its haptics) and are already using it as an individual promotional gift. We are also pleased that television formats and radio stations such as Hessenschau and Radio Regenbogen have already reported very positive reports about our innovative reusable straw.
That is why, following our company motto “Always expect more”, we have not remained idle and have made some optimizations to our reusable straws. The Turtleneck Straw® is now available in three lengths and several colors. We have also responded to customer concerns, for example, and rounded off and adjusted the edges and shape of the mouthpiece even further to ensure an even better and safer drinking experience. And its chemical and mechanical safety as well as its easy cleaning, especially in the catering sector, have been independently tested and confirmed with the TickMark seal.
For the catering industry, we have also developed a stainless-steel dish washer insert, holding up to 40 of our drinking straws, which guarantees simple, effective and safe cleaning of our stainless-steel straws. This guarantees optimally cleaned drinking straws without additional personnel costs and, vital for this industry, gives additional security for the safe use of our Turteneck Straws. Thanks to its elegant design, it can also be used as a stylish drinking straw holder on the counter…
But the journey continues:
Because our Turleneck Straw should be more than just an alternative to plastic straws. With our reusable straw, we want to create a symbol for sustainability and change that shows that sustainability has nothing to do with sacrifice and that sustainability and lifestyle go well together. And we want to draw attention to the plastic problem, change the world together – for us and all future generations.
“Change yourself and you change the world.”
– Mahamat Gandhi
If everyone is ready to change something individually, we as a community can change the world.
We have already changed something – how flexible are you?