Victor isn’t an eco-warrior or activist, just a man trying to solve a problem. He isn’t against plastic and recognizes its huge value in many areas of life from aeronautics to medical devices to lifestyle applications. His ambition, however, is to reduce the need for single-use plastics where alternatives can be found. The US alone uses over 550 million plastic straws a day and estimates are there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050.
Victor sought out professors at the University of Barcelona to research how a 100% biodegradable straw could be designed and manufactured. He found financial support from Pascual, a Spanish dairy company, and the Government of Catalonia.
Using sugar beet from France, along with several secret ingredients, Victor was able to develop a straw with the right consistency to ensure it gave consumers the same experience as a plastic straw. It remains rigid for longer than paper ones, but improves the drinking experience using flavors to enhance the taste.
“You need to love your problem and ensure your mind is open and recognize there is no limit to development ambitions,” Victor said from his production facility in Barcelona.
Victor called his straw “Sorbos” meaning “sips” in Spanish, and with it he started on an ecological journey that is slowly becoming a movement with considerable public support.
He brought on friends to support his fledgling business, working out of a small 80-square-meter facility. Having started with a converted pasta machine, the team worked with engineers to develop bespoke machines to mass produce the straws.
Initially, Victor sold a small number of his straws online, but he needed professional support to take it to the next stage. Through the Spanish Chamber of Commerce he was introduced to Ove Fondberg, an experienced investor, who had had a long career in the drinks industry in Scandinavia and investing around the world. “Victor was looking for investors but wanted someone who was a believer in the ‘movement’ and had industry distribution experience. Someone who understood how to bring new drinks concepts to market,” said Ove.
Sorbos started to increase production and sales in Spain and then in 2018, started exporting to France, Holland and the UK, selling pallet by pallet. In 2019, single-use plastics emerged as a global issue and the hospitality industry looked for alternatives. Paper straws didn’t work and producers started strengthening them with microplastics. Sorbos offered a real alternative and the business quickly took off.