Deer-friendly digestible paper bags developed in Japan
Japan Today -- Oct 21
Wild deer at Nara Park in western Japan, a major tourist attraction, have often suffered from eating plastic bags discarded by visitors, but local companies have now succeeded in developing paper bags that the animals can digest.

The deer-friendly bags use paper made with rice bran, and hence poses fewer health risks if they are eaten, according to one of the three developers.

"We made the paper with the deer in mind," said Hidetoshi Matsukawa, president of one of the developers called Naraism. "Tourism in Nara is supported by deer and we will protect them, and also promote the bags as a brand for the Nara economy."

Plastic bags discarded by visitors are a threat to the deer dwelling in and around the vast park. Last year, masses of tangled up plastic litter and packets were retrieved from the stomachs of several dead deer.

More than 1,000 deer roam in the park and visitors are allowed to feed them with digestive and sugar-free deer crackers, or "shika sembei."

The crackers are sold in nearby shops and do not use plastic wrapping. But some tourists are apparently giving them other snacks taken from plastic bags.

The digestible bags are made of rice bran -- an ingredient in the deer crackers -- and pulp recycled from milk packages. They are more easily dissolved in water while being less durable than normal paper, according to the firm, based in the town of Tawaramoto, Nara Prefecture.

News source: Japan Today
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