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]

The Northern Lights May be Visible in New York, Michigan, and Illinois on Saturday

iStock.com/den-belitsky
iStock.com/den-belitsky

The Northern Lights, a meteorological event most common to areas north of the Arctic Circle, may be visible over parts of America this weekend, Newsweek reports. Due to a solar storm, the light show may appear Saturday night over states in the northern part of the contiguous U.S., including New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington state.

Aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, occur when solar particles react to gases in Earth's atmosphere. Magnetic energy exaggerates this effect, which is why auroras most often appear at the geomagnetic poles where Earth's magnetic field is strongest. Rare circumstances can produce this phenomenon at lower latitudes, which may be the case this weekend.

On Wednesday, March 20, a solar flare sent a blast of solar particles toward Earth. The resulting geomagnetic storm could make for a vibrant and colorful aurora reaching as far south as New York and Wisconsin.

To catch the spectacle, look up at the night sky on Saturday, March 23. People in areas with minimal light pollution have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, though cloudy weather may make them hard to see.

[h/t Newsweek]

The "World's Cleanest Garbage Can" Won't Stink Up Your Kitchen

Canbi
Canbi

Modern living has removed a lot of the sights and smells that people find unpleasant. Exhaust fans sweep away cooking odors. Toilets make waste vanish in seconds. But there's still the dreaded plume of stinking garbage that wafts up every time you open the kitchen trash can.

Enter Canbi, a sharp-looking and cleverly engineered kitchen garbage can designed to both reduce odors and improve the entire waste disposal process. The product, which is currently being funded on Kickstarter, uses an environmentally-friendly deodorizer that utilizes baking soda and activated charcoal to reduce smells coming from the can. It also features a "nesting" liner system that keeps bags from collapsing into the opening and eliminates the chore of fumbling with new bags. Pull one out for disposal, and another is already lining the can. The latex liners are also biodegradable, reducing your reliance on plastic bags that clog landfills.

The large and small sizes of the Canbi garbage can are pictured
Canbi

Canbi is designed to be flaunted, not hidden. Unlike most trash receptacles that are made to be stuffed under the sink or behind a cupboard, the sleek can, which comes in two different sizes, is made to be proudly displayed in your kitchen. The customizable accent rings come in three styles—gold, platinum, and rose gold—so that you can match your can to your favored kitchen aesthetic.

Buy it on Kickstarter. The 3-gallon can is available at the $29 donation level, while the 12-gallon version starts at $52. A 25-pack of replacement liners will be available on Canbi's website for roughly $7.49. Replacement deodorizers, which last three months, will run about $3.75. The trash cans are expected to ship in July.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER