The UK Is Getting a New Paper Straw Factory to Wean the Country Off Plastic

iStock
iStock

As the negative environmental impact of plastic straws becomes more and more clear—each of those single-use straws can take hundreds of years to decompose—several cities and organizations have decided to either reduce or eliminate their use entirely. Buckingham Palace is ditching them, as is Alaska Airlines; cities like Seattle, Washington and Malibu, California have already banned them; and some multinational companies, like McDonald's, have floated the idea of phasing them out.

To fill the void, a new factory dedicated to producing paper straws is opening in Wales, The Guardian reports. Transcend Packaging, a new paper straw manufacturer, is opening a factory in Ebbw Vale, Wales, and plans to be running at full capacity by 2019. The paper straw plant will be the only one of its kind in Europe, its owners say.

The UK has been leading the charge against plastic straws over the past few months. The country plans to ban single-use plastics like straws as early as 2019. Yet plenty of people are loath to change their straw-sipping ways. While there are alternatives to plastic straws, including reusable silicone, glass, and stainless steel versions, not everyone is going to adapt to a BYO-straw world immediately. While biodegradable, disposable straws exist, they’re not common enough to be cost-effective. The UK hasn’t had a domestic producer of paper straws for decades, and has to import them from China—which is not exactly an eco-friendly process.

This is where Transcend comes in, providing a domestic supply of eco-friendly paper straws to the UK restaurants and chains that have vowed to nix their plastic straw addiction. Though McDonald's ultimately decided not to do away with plastic straws in the U.S., it is still eliminating plastic straws in its UK locations, and Transcend is set to supply paper straws to 1361 of the company's British restaurants beginning in September.

The European Union has also proposed a ban on single-use plastics [PDF], so paper straws will no doubt be in even higher demand in the next few years, meaning that Transcend’s factory probably won’t remain the only one of its kind for long.

[h/t The Guardian]

Amazon's Best Cyber Monday Deals on Tablets, Wireless Headphones, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Cyber Monday has arrived, and with it comes some amazing deals. This sale is the one to watch if you are looking to get low prices on the latest Echo Dot, Fire Tablet, video games, Instant Pots, or 4K TVs. Even if you already took advantage of sales during Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday still has plenty to offer, especially on Amazon. We've compiled some the best deals out there on tech, computers, and kitchen appliances so you don't have to waste your time browsing.

Computers and tablets

Amazon

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Video Games

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TECH, GADGETS, AND TVS

Samsung/Amazon

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home and Kitchen

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Watch: In 1948, Idaho Officials Sent 76 Beavers Parachuting Into Idaho’s Wilderness

A young beaver with all four feet firmly on the ground.
A young beaver with all four feet firmly on the ground.
yrjö jyske, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When people started building up the area around Idaho’s Payette Lake after World War II, its original residents began interfering with irrigation and agricultural endeavors. They weren’t exactly staging an organized protest—they were just beavers doing what beavers do.

Nevertheless, officials at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game decided their best bet was to find a new home for the long-toothed locals. The surrounding wilderness provided plenty of options, but transportation was another issue entirely. Traversing the undeveloped, mountainous terrain would require both trucks and pack animals, and experts knew from past relocation efforts that beavers weren’t fond of either.

“Beavers cannot stand the direct heat of the sun unless they are in water,” department employee Elmo W. Heter explained in a 1950 report [PDF]. “Sometimes they refuse to eat. Older individuals often become dangerously belligerent ... Horses and mules become spooky and quarrelsome when loaded with a struggling, malodorous pair of live beavers.”

To keep Payette Lake’s beavers healthy and happy during the journey, their human handlers would need to find another method of travel. As Boise State Public Radio reports, that’s when Heter suggested making use of their leftover WWII parachutes.

Two beavers would sit inside a wooden box attached to a parachute, which could be dropped from an airplane between 500 and 800 feet above their new home in the Chamberlain Basin. The cables that fastened the box to the parachute would keep it shut during the flight, but they’d slacken enough for the beavers to open the box upon landing. After testing the operation with weights, Heter and his colleagues enlisted an older beaver named Geronimo for a few live trials.

“Poor fellow!” Heter wrote. “You may be sure that ‘Geronimo’ had a priority reservation on the first ship into the hinterland, and that three young females went with him.”

Once Geronimo had certified the safety of the mission, the team began migrating the whole beaver population. During the fall of 1948, a total of 76 beavers touched down in their new territory. It wasn’t without tragedy, though; one beaver fell to his death after a cable broke on his box. Overall, however, the venture was deemed much safer (and less expensive) than any trip on foot would have been. And when department officials checked in on the beavers a year later, they had already started improving their ecosystem.

“Beavers had built dams, constructed houses, stored up food, and were well on their way to producing colonies,” Heter wrote. As Idaho Fish and Game’s Steve Liebenthal told Boise State Public Radio, the area is now part of “the largest protected roadless forest” in the continental U.S.

You can watch the Idaho Fish and Game Commission’s full 14-minute documentary about the process below.

[h/t Boise State Public Radio]