In the wake of the global plastic pollution crisis, a Manchester manufacturer has become the first factory to make paper straws in the UK for decades.
With public awareness of ocean plastics at an all-time high, thanks in part to Sir David Attenborough’s BBC documentary Blue Planet II, supermarkets and manufacturers in the food and drink supply chain are moving quickly towards environmentally-friendly, alternative materials.
Single-use plastic was one of the first areas to hit the media spotlight and the government has since consulted on how to use taxes or charges to deal with the problem - potentially spelling an end to products such as plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
In October, BBC News spoke to The Paper Straw Co, a Manchester manufacturer that saw an opening in the market to bring paper straw production back to the UK.
Sandra Pijper, Technical Director at The Paper Straw Co, told the BBC:
“Everyone was talking about Blue Planet. We were watching it and thinking “there is something we can do here”. Let’s go get some paper straw machines and try to get rid of the plastic straws out there.
“Who knows how big this could be, but we’re really excited with the process and it’s great to be making a change.”
Even though paper straws biodegrade and therefore do not pose a significant threat to marine life, most are imported from Asia and, depending on the source of materials used, may cause unintended environmental harm elsewhere on the planet.
With manufacturing based in the UK, The Paper Straw Co is able to ensure a high-quality product that uses paper from FSC certified forests.
The company has recently taken delivery of its fifth and sixth paper straw making machines, bringing weekly production capacity up to 5 million just six months after being founded.