You have probably seen the disturbing images of marine animals that were damaged by plastic waste and six-pack rings in particular.
Remember that poor sea turtle who was trapped in a six-pack ring and had its shell growing around it for years, which gave her an odd peanut shape?
This is one of the millions of sad examples of what plastic pollution is doing to the marine ecosystems. According to the estimates, this pollution harms approximately 1 million ocean animals each year, including 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals.
However, we still have a reason to hope for the better as there are people who want to do something about it and figure out the ways to help prevent and remove plastic pollution. Thus, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery together with ad agency We Believers has designed edible six-pack rings aimed to feed marine animals instead of strangling them.
The brewery claims that it now wants to replace all of its six-pack rings with the edible ones, which is about 400,000 cans per month. A mass-produced batch is expected to cost from 10 to 15 cents per unit, which is a bit more expensive than conventional six-pack rings.
Despite this, Saltwater Brewery is quite optimistic and hopes to encourage other beer producers to adopt the idea of edible beer packages. If more breweries follow their example, they say, the edible six-pack rings could be as cheap as the regular ones.
“If most craft breweries and big beer companies implement this technology, the manufacturing cost will drop and be very competitive compared with the current plastic solution, while saving hundreds of thousands of marine lives,” We Believers co-founder Gustavo Lauria said.
Except for being completely safe for wildlife, the product is also 100% biodegradable as it is made from recycled materials, such as wheat and barley that are left over from the brewing process.
It’s worth noting that the six-pack rings are required to be made from 100% photodegradable plastic, according to a law introduced in the US in 1989. Moreover, the Plastics Industry Trade Association claims that for this reason, six-pack rings are not hazardous to marine wildlife.
Is it really so, though? In fact, a “photodegradable” means that a plastic item breaks down into small pieces within 60-120 days. As you can understand, this period of time is more than enough for a turtle or any other animal to get trapped in it and eventually die. At the same time, it simply disintegrates into pieces but doesn’t completely decompose like it happens with biodegradable materials.
So it is no doubt that six-pack rings and other types of plastic waste harm marine wildlife. And to stop that from having irreversible consequences, we need to reconsider our whole attitude towards manufacturing, consuming and discharging goods that contain plastic.
Watch the video to learn more about edible six-pack rings.