Saltwater Brewery, a maker of craft beers, has created an edible version of the 6-pack rings found around sodas and beers, usually made of tough plastic that chokes and poisons wildlife. The 100% biodegradable and compostable rings are produced using recycled waste from the brewing process such as barley and wheat. If these new 6-pack rings end up in the oceans, marine life are able to ingest them without causing them harm. The rings are also completely safe for people to consume.
Plastic pollution in our oceans has become a global concern and 6-pack rings are a major culprit. Most marine debris, between 60% – 80% of materials, are comprised of plastics and highly concentrated in the northern hemisphere close to urban areas. A review published in early 2015 in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reported that of all seabird species studied between 1962 and 2012, 59% had ingested plastic with an average of 29% having plastic in their gut. The authors of the articles estimate that the ingestion rate would be closer to 90% if the research were conducted today. Even when people cut the plastic 6-pack rings to help prevent them from choking animals, birds and fish still suffer if they eat the plastic.
Saltwater Brewery opened its doors in December 2013 and quickly established itself as an environmentally conscious company. Not only was Saltwater founded by a team of eco-minded ocean lovers, but they also contribute to ocean-based charities like Surfrider and Ocean Foundation. Head of Brand at Saltwater Brewery Peter Agardy says, “It’s a big investment for a small brewery created by fisherman, surfers and people that love the sea.”
The Delray Beach Company acknowledges that the 6-pack rings cost more to produce with some of that cost passed onto consumers – but feel it is well worth it and hope consumers are willing to pay a little more to help the environment. President Chris Cove notes, “We hope to influence the bug guys and hopefully inspire them to get on board.”