Startup develops sustainable drinking straws through Berks LaunchBox

Coasty straws

Pictured are Petros Pappalas and Shanna Henry from World Brand. They will use the grant to design a new product. 

Credit: Penn State

For Coasty, reducing pollution in the earth's waterways is a priority. The company, founded in 2018 by partners Shanna Henry and Petros Pappalas, is committed to providing high quality alternatives to single-use plastic straws with their biodegradable paper straws, which are superior to the current paper straws on the market. They are getting their first opportunity to market directly to consumers through 10 Redner’s Warehouse Markets starting on March 2.

Coasty is one of the companies which benefits from Berks LaunchBox powered by Penn State, located within the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading.

Bearing witness to the devastation and impact that plastic pollution is wreaking on the planet, they conceived the idea to create a dye-free, biodegradable paper straw that was not only great for the environment, but a superior upgrade to the current paper straws on the market in terms of both aesthetic and function.

Coasty paper straws go through a unique post-production drying process to reinforce their strength, making them five times stronger than most paper straws on the market today. The paper straws are also created from sustainably harvested paper, which ensures that more trees are planted than used to create their products. They are a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics because they biodegrade in nature within weeks and are nontoxic. 

Coasty is the retail brand of the restaurant supply company World Brand. Coasty was developed to bring the company’s high-quality eco-friendly products, which are currently available in restaurants, to everyday consumers. Their paper straws can be found in the following local restaurants: DoubleTree by Hilton Reading, Judy’s on Cherry, Willoughby’s on Park and the Queen City Diner.

Coasty will test market their product at 10 Redner’s Warehouse Market locations including eight Pennsylvania locations starting on March 2.

Growing up in Reading, Pennsylvania, Henry and Pappalas share a sense of pride in the history of their hometown and are inspired and devoted to helping to restore Reading’s longstanding foundation of manufacturing. In July 2019, the new venture started working in the free, co-working space at the Berks LaunchBox, located within the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading, so they could benefit from working around other entrepreneurs and receive mentoring, networking and support.

“Working in the Berks LaunchBox co-working space has brought Shanna and me back to Reading to start our business ... We love the professional atmosphere, meeting space, free rent, and having other entrepreneurs to brainstorm ideas. Berks LaunchBox employees Patty Leshinskie and Michelle Hnath are like Swiss army knives – any time you need help with something, they find a smart solution or mentor to help us get it done. The LaunchBox help has been a big boost to moving our company forward,” said Petros Pappala, CEO, Coasty

For more information about Coasty straws, visit or contract Pappala at [email protected] or 215-287-2298.

About the Berks LaunchBox
Berks LaunchBox, located in suite 105 of the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading, connects local entrepreneurs to the support, resources, and facilities that they need to build sustainable and scalable businesses with a viable plan for growth. Services include assistance with prototyping, conducting market research, and connecting with mentors. The Berks LaunchBox offers entrepreneurship workshops, coworking space for startups, Meetups focused on business development, a makerspace with 3D printers for prototyping, and special youth programs.

The Berks LaunchBox is one of 21 innovation hubs provided seed grant funding by Invent Penn State— a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student success launched in 2015 by Penn State President Eric J. Barron. For more information, visit or contact Michelle Hnath, Berks LaunchBox facilities coordinator, at [email protected] or 610-396-6400.