THE winner of this year's Salters Den competition has been selected from a record number of entries.

Now in its fourth year, the competition aims to find the most exciting new businesses and ideas in Northwich and Winsford and support them with a cash prize and expert advice.

Winners, Northwich-based Perfect Plastics, impressed the judges with their 100 per cent biodegradable straws and ambitions to reduce the presence of single-use plastic.

It is run by brothers Lee and Neil Taylor, who have turned their passion for the environment into a business working with bars, coffee shops and restaurants.

The straws, which look and feel like traditional plastic straws, have a shelf life of up to three years when kept dry but are designed to decompose in as little as 120 days once disposed, compared to traditional straws which can take 500 years to dissolve.

To achieve this, the straws have been developed using the same non-toxic material and technology used in medical devices such as sutures.

Lee said “We are absolutely delighted to have won the Salters Den this year, we are very much looking forward to working with the partners involved in this competition.

"The prize we have won will enable us to expedite our plans over the next 12 months.

"Non-essential plastic usage is a blight on our society and we aim to help reduce this with our products. Winning this competition will ultimately enable us to reach a larger audience in a shorter time period.

"We would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in this competition – we are lucky that we have local established businesses that are willing to put so much effort into offering new businesses such a comprehensive prize.”

The competition is run in partnership with Howard Worth Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, Mosshaselhurst Solicitors, NatWest, and Cheshire West and Chester Council.

A record number of entries were whittled down to a 10-strong longlist, who had the chance to pitch to judges before a top three – and a winner – was selected.

Chris Smith, head of business service at Howard Worth, said: “We were impressed with Lee’s hard work and ability to develop an innovative solution to a current environmental issue.

"He demonstrated enthusiasm and passion for the product with future plans already in motion to create new products, continuing to reduce plastic use.

"We look forward to seeing the business expand and grow.”

Second prize went to Lawrence Hill's Vegan Nutrition Store Ltd, while the final podium place was split between My Curry Club and Pretty Princess Cakes and Bakes.

Salters Den will return in 2019.