Edible Six-Pack Rings Feed, Rather Than Strangle, Wildlife

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 18, 2016 1:38 pm
Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 12.58.47 PM

(Credit: Saltwater Brewery)

Plastic six-pack rings are the bane of conservationists — images of sea birds and turtles entangled in them serve as constant reminders that consumer culture and the environment don’t get along. But thanks to an innovation from a Florida-based brewery, we can feel a little better about enjoying a six-pack.

Saltwater Brewery has partnered with the ad agency We Believers to create what they say is the first fully edible beer can packaging. Made from byproducts of the brewing process such as wheat and barley, their six-pack holders are fully biodegradable and completely digestible. Rather than ensnaring curious animals in a corset of litter, the company’s six-pack rings could serve as a satisfying snack. And if nothing is biting, the rings quickly decompose.

Plus, the drink holders are just as strong as the plastic variety, which should keep those Screamin’ Reels safe, as well.

Drink Packaging as Food Source

The company 3-D printed a test batch of 500 holders in April, according to AdvertisingAge, and it plans to scale up production to meet its current output of 400,000 cans of beer a month. While the edible holders are more expensive to make, Saltwater Brewery wants set an example for other beer producers and encourage them to adopt the idea. They say if their edible holders become commonplace, they could potentially be as cheap as the regular plastic rings.

First Solution to Remove Plastic

Other designs for six-pack holders have emerged in recent years, such as the top-hugging holder made by PakTech, and favored by craft breweries for its unique look. Although the design uses more plastic, the company says that it won’t harm wildlife in the same way, and reduces the amount of other packaging materials. Plastic is still, well, plastic though, and it is difficult to completely eradicate the impact our disposable packaging has.

The six-pack ring crisis is not as dire as it was in the 1970s, when images of trapped wildlife first began to appear. Six-pack rings are now widely made from photo-degradable plastic, meaning that they dissolve in sunlight and should eventually fall apart. However, the current standards specify that the rings should be made to break down within 90 days, leaving plenty of time to harm wildlife. And, they don’t completely disappear, at least not for a long time, so they could still pose a risk to animals that eat them.

Moving away from plastic entirely and embracing sustainable solutions could be a much better idea. It’s not just drink holders that threaten wildlife however. Plastic of every size and description floats in the oceans, according to the Ocean Conservancy’s 2015 report. The organization’s investigation found plastic inside many species of marine animals, and that these plastics often absorb and hold on to dangerous chemicals.

Six-pack rings make up only a small percentage of the plastic we toss, but the idea is heartening nonetheless.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts
  • http://msgdaleday.blogspot.com Dale Day

    a great idea! I think everyone who reads this needs to urge bottlers
    to change to this ASAP. What an awesome way to reduce the massive
    amount of this crap in our landfills and oceans.

  • Steve Smith

    I hate beer but because of this I am considering buying a 6 pack of their beer.

    • Gerald Wonnacott

      Visit Bend, Or, you might acquire a taste for beer…

      • Steve Smith

        I have been there (I prefer Ashland myself…theater and all) and I can assure you that I have tried desperately to acquire that taste and have failed miserably every time to the point where I’ve learned that inhaling my drug of choice is a far better preference and I don’t want to beat my wife while I’m high …. cool side effect, no ?

        • Gerald Wonnacott

          Yes, nice aspect of living in Oregon…
          Doin’ some Blue Diesel right now! Got any chocolate?

        • Chris TMC

          I’d hope that you do not want to beat your wife whether high or not.

  • Mike Richardson

    Sounds like a great idea. I’d like to see this type of responsible packaging expand to other markets.

    • Small_Businessman

      Definitely! Soft drinks, especially. Think about how many cans of colas are consumed every year. And it should work for those 16 oz. cola bottle rings, also.

  • Shalryn

    Awesome idea. This is the sort of thing that influences my buying decisions. If the product was available here, I would buy it instead of other beers, just because of this innovation.

  • http://travelswithtam.com Travels with Tam

    This is awesome. Let’s tweet and share share share!!!!!

  • European

    If we now also do away with alu cans (recyclable but at huge energy amounts) we are almost in a perfect world. Still have a lot of recycling glass bottles in EU and the beer tastes better from glas. But of course if you’re not drinking craft beer but any run of the mill US mass produced stuff the taste is less of an issue.

  • Ivar Ivarson

    SodaStream, oops, can’t use that. I forgot how the Israeli based firm oppresses Palestinians, the prefered terrorists®, by providing jobs.

    • QuiteContrary

      How do you make beer with a sodastream? Or have you been saving that comment up for a few years and this is as close to relevant as you can find?

  • Krystal Saenz

    What a great idea. Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner? I wonder if they increased the cost to offset the extra expenses to make it; I’d pay extra for it though, assuming I like the beer.

  • Janice

    I’d like to see what they’re made from. not just a weak article saying how “good” they are


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