Plastic six-pack holders and have long been a danger to dolphins, sea turtles, and seabirds, which can die from entanglement or ingestion. But the team behind an edible, biodegradable six-pack ring are rolling out an eco-friendly solution to the problem.
Everyone knows that plastic waste is a huge problem in the world’s oceans. But in case you didn’t, here is an alarming fact to think about: four million to 12 million metric tons of plastic washed into the oceans in 2010—that’s enough to cover every foot of coastline on the planet. Marine life of all kinds are negatively impacted by plastic waste, which includes old-school plastic six-pack rings and modern PakTech plastic can holders.
Eco Six Pack Rings (E6PR), an idea developed by Mexican startup Entelequia and New York ad agency We Believers in 2016, are now on-shelves in liquor stores across Florida and available to any brewery across the U.S., although requests will take some time to process as production reaches the national stage.
The entirely biodegradable and compostable six-pack rings are made from waste byproducts of the beer-making process and other compostable materials. SaltWater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida, was the first to use the eco-friendly packaging in 2016, and continues to play a major role in its production.
“Together, we can all be advocates for a clean and safe environment,” said Chris Gove, co-founder and president at SaltWater Brewery. “With the help of E6PR, we would like to inspire the entire beer industry to follow our lead. We are proud to be the first brewery using E6PRs for our cans. Our goal is to transition all of the packaging in our facility to this six-pack ring alternative that goes beyond recycling and strives to achieve zero waste.”
The rings are designed to gradually disintegrate in a few months and are devised to be as ecologically harmless as possible during that time. They are completely edible and safe for digestion for all marine life, unlike their plastic counterparts, which have been notorious for injuring and killing countless marine animals each year.
E6PR is currently working in stages to implement production to every brewery interested in using the eco-friendly rings. While they’re just producing for standard-sized cans now, in the long-term, the company aims to produce packaging that accommodates all cans and bottles available on the market.
“If most craft brewers and big beer companies implement this technology, we will potentially be saving hundreds of thousands of marine lives as a result,” said Francisco García, the engineer behind the project, co-founder at Entelequia and now COO at E6PR. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we hope to continue to highlight the value for companies, big and small, in dedicating themselves to being environmentally responsible.”