Edible six-pack rings to feed rather than strangle
If we all don’t know this by now, this is a rather startling wake-up call. Up to 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die every year after getting trapped in six-pack rings. Cutting them doesn’t help either as turtles mistake it for food and die from eating the plastic waste floating in the ocean.
Saltwater Brewery, based in Florida has allied with ad agency We Believers to create an entirely edible beer can packaging. The material is made from barley and wheat leftover from brewing beer and moulded into something strong enough to support the weight of the cans. The company says this is the first 100% biodegradable and edible six-pack packaging in the market. The idea is born from a partnership with We Believers, with functional prototypes. According to Marco Vega, the co-founder of We Believers, this solution aims to introduce sustainable packaging with zero waste and impact on wildlife. Saltwater hopes to garner support from the company’s fans and customers, primarily surfers and fishermen.
Before Saltwater, many others attempted to resolve the plastic problem, such as PakTech with their top-hugging holder. Although it won’t harm wildlife, in the same way, plastic is still used which proves how tough it is to eliminate plastic entirely. Compared to the 1970s, the crisis of the six-pack rings is not as dire. Changes are being made, including photo-degradable plastic which dissolves in sunlight and eventually falls apart. Present standards stipulate that the rings should break down within 90 days, but this leaves an extended interim period to harm wildlife. Also, they need a long time to break down completely which poses a risk to animals that eat them.
Although prices for the edible six-pack rings are higher than its plastic wielding counterparts, they hope that larger brewers and industry leaders can pick up on this trend and contribute to saving the environment. With their larger economies of scale, pricing would become more competitive and hopefully, eradicate the plastic rings used by most beer companies.
We should be looking to move away from plastic entirely and to welcome any sustainable alternatives. Drink holders are not the only culprits threatening wildlife. Oceans are filled with plastic of every size according to Ocean Conservancy’s 2015 report. The organisation has found plastic inside many species of marine animals, which contain dangerous chemicals.