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Finnish food packaging firm Huhtamäki opens paper straw factory in Northern Ireland

The company said the move is part of a plan to bring sustainable packaging products to the market.

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File photo of drinking straws. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

Finland-based food packaging giant Huhtamäki opened a new factory in Northern Ireland on Wednesday. The facility will initially be used exclusively to produce paper drinking straws.

Paper straws are likely to grow in popularity after a planned EU-wide ban on disposable plastic items goes into effect in 2021. Earlier this year the European Parliament voted to ban various single-use plastic items, including plastic utensils, cotton ear buds, drinking straws and others.

According to Huhtamäki, the new facility - located in the town of Antrim, near the capital Belfast - will eventually employ about 100 people over the next few years.

Sustainably sourced straws

The firm said it plans to expand the range of products made at the facility and that materials for the straws will be sourced from sustainably-managed forests.

Huhtamäki's general manager in Northern Ireland, Ciaran Doherty, said the company is looking for ways to improve the environmental performance of its products.

"The launch of our paper straws is a good example of this. We are extremely proud to support our customers in their strategy to have a more sustainable and environmentally responsible supply chain by opening this new site," he said in a company release.

After the opening of the new facility, Huhtamäki now employs about 560 workers in Northern Ireland. The Espoo-based firm employs almost 18,000 workers in 34 countries.

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