We’ve all seen the horrifying photos of marine wildlife being strangled by plastic pollution, including six pack rings used to hold together packs of soda and beer.
For example, take this photo of an innocent sea turtle in a death grasp by a plastic six-pack ring that is literally crushing his shell and deforming it.
While this photo is disturbing it is only a drop in the ocean – this is happening all the time. Not to mention, marine life commonly eat plastic mistaking it for food. Dead birds, whales, and many other wild animals have been found deceased with bellies full of plastic.
According to the numbers, at least 1 million sea birds are negatively impacted by plastic pollution every year. That number includes an estimated 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals like sea otters.
“Millions of marine mammals and sea turtles become entrapped in plastic or ingest it and die,” explains marine biologist Mark Tokulka.
It’s about time we do something to address the problem, and this edible six-pack ring is on a mission to do just that.
The awesome anti-plastic rings were created by a Florida-based company called Saltwater Brewery alongside ad agency We Believers. The dynamic duo teamed up to create an edible six-pack ring that can feed marine animals instead of killing them.
The Brewery is on a mission to replace all of their classic plastic six-pack rings with an edible model. They sell about 400,000 cans per month – a sizable amount.
They estimate it will cost around 10 to 15 cents per unit if they order in bulk. This is more expensive than the plastic variety, but clearly worth the extra cost.
Saltwater Brewery believes they can set a new standard for the industry and hope other breweries and beverage companies will choose to change the way they package their goods.
If more companies opt for the eco-friendly edition, the cost would go down and be more comparable to traditional plastic.
According to Gustavo Lauria, the cofounder of We Believers, “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.”
Not only is the product a win for marine life, it’s also better for the Planet. It is 100% biodegradable and made from recycled materials like wheat and barley. The best part is that these ingredients are left over from the brewing process.
The end result is strong enough to support the weight of the cans without causing harm to the environment when its usage is complete. It is as resistant and durable as plastic rings.
According to a law put into place in 1989, six-pack rings are currently required to be made using 100% photodegradable plastic. This type of plastic breaks down into smaller pieces within 60 to 120 days.
Adding insult to injury, the Plastics Industry Trade Association considers them non-hazardous to marine wildlife.
It goes without saying that this is far from the truth – and there are plenty of pictures to prove it. Plus, 60 days is long enough for an animal to become entangled in plastic, and even as plastic breaks down it still presents a danger to marine life.
It is an indisputable fact that plastic of all types, including six-pack rings, are harmful to animals and the environment at large. Therefore, it’s important that we make changes as soon as possible, and changing six-pack rings is a great start.
After all, Americans consumed 6.3 billion gallons of beer in the last year and the majority of the plastic rings used to hold them together end up in our world’s oceans.
“People think cutting the rings is enough [but] the birds and turtles eat the plastic either way,” explains Fisherman Russel S. Haas.
Saltwater Brewing believes their sustainable and eco-friendly six-pack rings will benefit marine animals while also helping them to connect with their target audience of “surfers, fisherman and people who love the sea.”
If other breweries switch to this type of six-pack ring, we could save hundreds of thousands of marine animals. We think that’s easily worth the extra cost to buy responsibly packaged beverages. What about you?