Recycled, Biodegradable Six-Pack Rings Put Ocean Conservation First

posted: 06/08/16
by: Eileen Marable
Recycled Rings

by Dillon Fernando

It's summer time! With that comes more people going to beach to soak up some rays or to spend time in ocean swimming or surfing. But with more beach-goers there also comes more trash like plastic bags or food wrappers and containers that end up on the sands and in the ocean. The images of birds, fish, and turtles among other animals struggling to get free from waste is a testament to the deep effects our human activity has had on their homes and quality of life. One brewery decided that enough was enough.

Saltwater Brewery decided to help conserve ocean wildlife by creating biodegradable six-pack rings holding together their six-packs of beer. Instead of being made out of plastic, the Florida-based brewery makes their six-pack rings out of the left over wheat and barley products that are used in the beer making process. This makes six-pack rings that are not only biodegradable but also serve as an edible snack for all the sea birds, sea turtles, and fish that might encounter one of these rings.

Current regulations dictate that all plastic rings need to eventually break down within 90 days. Most companies accomplish this by making a plastic that starts breaking down upon exposure to sunlight. However, 90 days is still just enough time to still harm the 1 million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals affected by plastic pollution in the ocean.

Saltwater Brewery hopes that by being an example with their eco-friendly packaging, more breweries will hop on board with the innovative ring design. The company is expanding the use of the biodegradable rings to all of their canned products, which is about 400,000 cans of beer a month. While at first, this might make the cost of the beer a little more expensive, Saltwater believes that through by getting other companies on-board with the ring design (that they are looking to patent), market competition will help normalize the price of their beer and make the use of the ring cost-effective. The more companies using the design would greatly reduce the amount of six-pack rings that unfortunately harm ocean wildlife.

Saltwater Brewery's ingenious six-pack ring doesn't solve the problem posed by human ocean pollution, but it certainly is a socially conscious step in the right direction by minimizing the amount of plastic ending up in the oceans and harming animals. Hopefully this kind of example will lead to ideas for other manufacturers to reduce waste and perhaps even make a positive contribution to the environment at the same time.

You can contribute to the ocean conservation efforts right now! As part of Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week, there are many ways to get involved and donate, so learn and explore!

Plus, check out some other forward-thinking, compostable packaging coming from surprising places. You can see more stories about smart reclamation and recycling on Science Channel's new series Made By Destruction, Mondays at 10p.

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