Tag: plastic

The last (plastic) straw

Source: Two Sides 

The scourge of plastic straws is a hot button issue for environmental campaigners, and it won’t be long until they are banned altogether. But what will we use to sip our sangrias? Natalie Stephens, group MD of Optichrome, explains why paper straws are the best alternative.

On the evening of Sunday 10 December, 2017, Natalie Stephens settled down to watch the final episode of Blue Planet II. Along with 14 million other viewers (it was one of the most watched shows of 2017), she was horrified at the footage of marine life being trapped, suffocated and killed by the plastic pollution in the ocean.

“I just love the ocean,” she says. “I spend a lot of time in it, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a turtle pop up next to me while in the ocean in Barbados. Watching that episode of Blue Planet brought me to tears.”

Natalie wasn’t alone. A survey by the BBC showed that 62% of people who saw the episode wanted to make changes in their daily lives to reduce pollution in our oceans. But unlike most people, as the Group Managing Director of print company Optichrome, Natalie was in a position to do something that could make a real difference to the amount of plastic waste.

Straw poll

After the successful decrease in the use of plastic bags, the next government initiative to cut single-use plastic is likely to be straws. The Marine Conservation Society estimates that the UK uses 8.5 billion plastic straws ever year, and they are among the top ten waste items found on British beaches. And like other plastics, they take decades to degrade – some reports estimate that a single plastic straw takes 200 years to break down.

“The UK uses 8.5 billion plastic straws ever year, and they are among the top ten waste items found on British beaches”

“The problem with plastic straws is that yes, you can recycle them, but you need to put them in the right place,” explains Natalie. “And even if they go to a recycling plant, because they are so small, they fall out of the recycling packages and still end up in the ocean.”

The solution is paper straws. Faced with a customer backlash against plastic, over the past six months a number of huge, international companies have announced that they will replace their plastic straws with paper ones. McDonald’s, Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Pret A Manger, along with hundreds of smaller chains, have all pledged to remove plastic straws from their outlets. This follows the outright banning of plastic straws in a number of major cities around the world and US states, with the UK set to follow suit.

“The government has been threatening to bring in a ban on plastic straws for a long time,” says Natalie. “Theresa May made a speech last year about it and Michael Gove is really backing the initiative. So I think we will be in the situation where plastic straws are banned, which is a situation that a number of states in the US have been in for a while now. The market for paper straws over there has gone crazy.”


Like the packaging industry, this ban on single-use plastics is not only good news for the environment, but good news for the paper and print industry. With the right paper grade and production quality, paper straws are a great alternative to plastic, and as a company with enviable environmental credentials, Paper Straw Group – a division of Optichrome Group – are in an excellent position to grab a slice of the market.

“We are a very environmentally conscious company,” explains Natalie. “We have ISO accreditations and are one of just a few printers in the UK that has EMAS [Eco-Management and Audit Scheme]. The environment has always been extremely important to us as a business, but also important to me personally.”

Having spent years researching the area, the company has finally honed the production of their range of paper straws, straws that are both practical and environmentally friendly.

“This is where our expertise in paper comes in,” explains Natalie. “We source our own paper, so we make sure that we’re producing the strongest straw we possibly can. There’s no coating, and we have researched thoroughly to make sure there are no micro-plastics in the glue. The straws are recyclable, compostable and biodegradable, and leave no footprint whatsoever.”

Right now, Paper Straw Group are in talks with a number of businesses, putting the final details to orders from hundreds of straws to millions. They have the capacity to produce up to two million straws every week, but expect this to increase with the inevitable demand.

“The potential market is huge,” says Natalie. “It’s anywhere that uses straws, so pubs, restaurants, cinemas, high street food and drink chains – anywhere you can buy a drink needs paper straws. It’s also my personal passion and something that fits nicely with the industry we’re already in, as well as the fact that we’re doing something positive for the environment.”

By Maria Dermentzi for Mashable

Plastic Whale is a professional plastic fishing company that offers boat trips during which tourists — while sightseeing — will pick up plastic from Amsterdam’s canals. The plastic bottles that are being collected get turned into office furniture, in collaboration with Vepa.

The new Renegade 3D pen was born with the aim of being the perfect solid tool to eliminate overpriced 3D printing filaments and to save the environment by directly recycling and reusing household plastic waste for 3D printing.

The sustainable technology specializes in one thing, and one thing only — it prints models by recycling plastic bottles, files, and bags. It does this providing a great 3D printing experience with no compromises.


The pen uses a robust and powerful extruder that includes a screw-feeder mechanism and heating system. These combine to transport, destruct, and melt the plastic tape produced by the ‘chupacut’ plastic bottle shredder or even standard filaments.

The rotating screw forces the heated plastic to move forward evenly and extrudes it from the nozzle. The molten plastic then cools down rapidly into a solid and stable spatial structure. The tool uses a powerful drive motor and gearbox, eliminating well-known issues in plastic material feeding that most 3D pens currently face.

The temperature is adjustable from 50°C to 320°C using a single controller and the speed is also controlled by a single button.

The sustainable instrument can use 5 to 7 mm strips cut from PET plastic bottles, plastic bags, or plastic files with a thickness of 0.14 to 0.35mm. It can also use standard PLA, ABS, nylon, TPE, HIPS, wood and other types of filament with a diameter of 1.75 mm. It is available in two finish options: matte black and matte white plus features a removable attachment with a colourful spool for plastic tapes.

Chupacut is a manual plastic bottle shredder which produces the perfect plastic strips to use with the 3d printing pen. Its spherical shape allows it to create 3, 6, 9, or 12mm plastic strips without ever having to change the setup.

It has curved slots that significantly reduce friction force and provide a very efficient rotation of the bottle, keeping it at an acute angle with the blade as it’s being cut. This also prolongs the lifespan of the blade, and results in a faster, more stable cutting process.

The design ensures that the blade is completely enclosed within the instrument. After installation, the blade can only be removed by using another similar-sized blade for safety purposes. Chupacut’s telescopic holder keeps large bottles stable – in any position. A stable bottle means a more reliable cutting process that yields the smoothest plastic strips.

Renegade is reaching out for funding via its Kickstarter campaign.

Click on the following link to buy recycled products to make the earth a better place – https://www.customearthpromos.com.


Plastic five pound notes are about to be unveiled by the Bank of England which will be impossible to tear, can go through the wash and even survive having a glass of wine poured on them.

The polymer £5 note repels dirt and moisture and is designed to last for about five years, compared with between 18 months and two years for the cotton paper version which should save the Bank of England about £100-milliom over 10 years.

The design is being unveiled later this week while the notes themselves will not be released until September when about 44m of the notes will come into circulation, followed by plastic versions of other notes.

The new fiver, which will be 15% smaller than the current note, will feature Winston Churchill who replaces the 19th Century prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.

A plastic £10 note featuring author Jane Austen will be released next summer and a £20 note with a picture of the artist JMW Turner will be launched by 2020.

Victoria Cleland, 46, the Bank’s chief cashier, told the Sunday Times, the new notes were getting a good reaction from members of the public who had seen them.

She says: “They often says, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’ You don’t often get ‘cool’ and ‘the Bank of England’ in the same sentence. They are more modern and I think they’re beautiful.”

But despite their resilience, the Bank is not encouraging anybody to give the new notes a spin.

Cleland says: “Yes, you can put them through washing machines but we’re not encouraging people to do that. We didn’t design them to go into washing machines: it is a fortunate by-product that they are more resilient [when washed].

“But clearly if you keep doing it at high temperatures you are going to destroy the poor note.”

Governor Mark Carney, revealed plans for polymer notes 11 weeks after joining the Bank of England in 2013.

He was head of the Bank of Canada when it introduced them in 2011 but the launch was overshadowed by rumours that the notes were scented after Canadians became convinced they could smell maple syrup on the money.

The Bank of England, which dealt with 240 000 counterfeit notes last year, hopes the new notes will be much more difficult for fraudsters to copy successfully.

By Nicola Bartlett for www.mirror.co.uk
Image credit: www.mirror.co.uk

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