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Finnish plastic-free drinking straw attracts funding to scale up

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s Stora Enso said its biodegradable drinking straws aimed at tackling the world’s plastic waste were now on sale to European customers, while its developer, Sulapac, had raised funds to expand production.

Stora Enso, one of the world’s largest pulp and paper makers, announced the joint venture to develop the straw with Sulapac a year ago, after European Union lawmakers decided to ban widely-used, throw-away plastics such as straws and cotton buds by 2021.

Sulapac said it had raised 15 million euros ($16.5 million)in new funding from investors including luxury house Chanel and international media houses to scale up the production of its renewable straw material and to explore other uses for it.

“Our cooperation with Sulapac allows us to explore new types of innovative and scalable materials and widen our offering of renewable solutions”, Marcus Dehlin, Stora Enso’s head of business alliances, said in a statement.

The majority of Stora’s profit comes from pulp and packaging board but the company is exploring new materials to complement its biocomposite business to meet growing consumer demand for sustainable packaging.

($1 = 0.9073 euros)

Reporting by Anne Kauranen, editing by Louies Heavens