Time and time again it has been proven that plastic six-pack rings have a devastating effect to both wildlife and the environment. Saltwater Brewery, in Delray Beach, Florida, has come up with a very creative and sustainable alternative to the standard six-pack ring.
While many iterations of the packaging have been seen over the years, this one is a brand-new approach to sustainable beer packaging – their six-pack rings are 100 percent biodegradable and edible. If nothing eats them, they simply dissolve.
How is that possible? They are constructed of barley and wheat ribbons (remnants) from the brewing process. This packaging can actually be safely eaten by animals that may come into contact with the refuse. The small Florida-based brewery hopes this will help in saving marine life and cutting down on the amount of plastic in the ocean.
Head of Brand at Saltwater Brewery Peter Agardy says:
“It’s a big investment for a small brewery created by fisherman, surfers and people who love the sea.”
Around 100 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, of which about 10 million tonnes ends up in the sea and is able to be ingested by marine life according to international organization Greenpeace. One of the other solutions for six-pack rings out there includes them being made from photo-degradable plastic that dissolves in sunlight. The thing is, it could take 90 days for the plastic to break down, leaving plenty of time to harm wildlife which is why this edible version is so much better.
Jennifer Brandon, a graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, told the L.A. Times that even though wheat and barley aren’t the diet staples of marine life, they are safe for animals to eat. Brandon said in the article:
“Six-pack rings aren’t the main problem, but they’re a symbol of the problem. Anything that can solve a problem at the consumer end is a good thing.”
The design is just as strong as plastic packaging but it’s more expensive to produce. However, the company has faith in humanity and believes that customers will be willing to pay a bit more in order to help the environment. Global news wrote that ideally they’ll be willing to share the technology with other breweries and drink makers, so the future will be littered with less plastic. Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove said:
“We hope to influence the big guys and hopefully inspire them to get on board.”