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Women-Owned Business is One of Only Handful of Paper Straw Manufacturers in USA

In the Community: Dalmath Associates  & Roc Paper Straws

Kathryn and Karrie Laughton. Photo provided.

Roc Paper Straws, a new paper straw manufacturer, opens in Rochester.

Kathryn and Karrie Laughton are on a mission to save the planet one paper straw at a time.

The mother-daughter team has officially opened Roc Paper Straws, a new paper straw manufacturing company in Rochester, New York, that will make and distribute a range of standard and custom-designed high-quality, eco-friendly paper drinking straws throughout the United States.  

The new company is one of only a handful of paper straw manufacturers in the United States, and the only one in New York State and the northeast. Roc Paper Straws contain no forever chemicals, are non-toxic, food grade and PFAS-free.

Roc Paper Straws was born out of need and a mission. Karrie Laughton is the owner of Lux Lounge, a popular and long-standing bar, located in Rochester’s trendy South Wedge neighborhood. Lux uses a lot of straws. And like her customers, Karrie wanted to do what she could to protect the environment. Replacing plastic straws with paper straws was one way she could do that. 

“Making the switch from plastic straws to paper has been hitting the headlines for some time and since much of the focus has been the bar and restaurant industry, I have been paying close attention,” said Karrie. “The irreversible damage that single-use plastics have had on our environment is astounding and people are finally insisting on change. And while some plastics can be recycled, less than 10 percent actually are. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says plastic straws are consistently one of the most littered plastic items and they are in the top 10 list of items found in international coastal cleanups1. Plastic straws end up in landfills, pollute our oceans, are detrimental to our wildlife and beautiful sea creatures, and microplastic particles end up in our food and drinking water2. ”

Karrie, a successful and creative entrepreneur in Rochester who is known for her “nothing is impossible” attitude decided, why not make them myself? She knew she wasn’t the only bar and restaurant owner who was encountering this problem and she knew the market opportunity in the hospitality industry alone could be significant. 

Roc Paper Straws with logo. Photo provided.

Karrie enlisted her mother Kathryn’s help and after three years of planning, perseverance and pandemic-related delays, they invested funds in new equipment, leased and renovated a spacious 10,000 sq. ft. manufacturing space at 920 Exchange Street in the City of Rochester, researched and bought the best equipment, sourced sustainable high-quality food-grade paper, glue and inks and hired key employees. 

Karrie said the biggest complaint amongst consumers was that some paper straws “get soggy” and “fall apart.” 

“To prevent that we use top quality materials including a thicker grade paper that will not disintegrate as quickly, and food-grade glue and dyes,” Karrie said.

The Roc Paper Straws product line is eco-friendly, biodegradable, marine-safe and compostable. Their current product line includes wrapped and unwrapped, solid white, solid black and an array of standard color striped paper straws. It also offers custom-branded straws with customer logos. 

Products can be purchased online at rocpaperstraws.com. The company also operates a storefront at its manufacturing facility, where customers may pick up orders or just come in to buy what they need.  

Roc Paper Straws currently employs eight people and hopes to hire more as the business continues to grow.

The Laughtons hope that Roc Paper Straws will be a fierce competitor in the drinking straw industry. 

“Although we are starting out small, we have chosen a manufacturing space that can accommodate growth. We will continue to innovate and add equipment that enables us to produce what customers want at competitive prices. We will give the competition a run for their money. In other words… our straws won’t suck.”

Existing Roc Paper Straws customers include Rochester area businesses Abundance, Bodega on Park, Crisp, Dacha46, Dicky’s, Fiorella, Good Times Café, Happy Earth Tea, Historic Houseparts, Iron Smoke Distillery, Johns Tex Mex, Petit Poutinerie, Lux Lounge, Radio Social, Roc City Ramen, Salty, The Night Drop, The Spirit Room, The Union Tavern and Voula’s. 

“We have tried so many different eco-friendly straws. Nothing has ever held up,” said Iron Smoke Distillery owner and manager Jen Brunett. “They break, they get soggy, and we can’t find a fun color to match our brand. Then along comes Roc Paper Straws and we were unanimously impressed, as were our guests! We have the color we’ve been searching for and they are solid with zero squish factor. I have heard no complaints from our guests, either. As a bonus, Karrie and crew are amazing to work with and we are supporting local, too! We love Roc Paper Straws!”

Visit Roc Paper Straws at rocpaperstraws.com for more info.