A small Florida-based brewery has released an edible and biodegradable six-pack holder in hopes of saving marine life and cutting down on the amount of plastic in the ocean.
Saltwater Brewery’s edible six-pack holder is made up of beer byproducts, like barley and wheat remnants, which are leftover from the brewing process. So if the rings end up in the ocean, it will safely disintegrate.
The company also said the packaging can be safely eaten by animals that may come into contact with it.
The design is just as strong as plastic packaging but it’s more expensive to produce the company said. However, it hopes customers will be willing to pay a bit more in order to help the environment.
“We hope to influence the big guys and hopefully inspire them to get on board,” Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove said.
According to international organization Greenpeace, around 100 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, of which about 10 million tonnes ends up in the sea and is able to be ingested by marine life.
There have been some steps involved to curb the environmental harm. Many six-pack rings are now made from photo-degradable plastic that dissolves in sunlight, according to Discover Magazine. However, it could take 90 days for the plastic to break down, leaving plenty of time to harm wildlife.
Is the ‘edible ring’ safe?
Jennifer Brandon, a graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, told the L.A. Times that even though wheat and barley aren’t the diet staples of marine life, they are safe for animals to eat.
She also said there is a definite plastic problem in the ocean.
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“Six-pack rings aren’t the main problem, but they’re a symbol of the problem,” Brandon said in the article. “Anything that can solve a problem at the consumer end is a good thing.”
Saltwater Brewery printed a test batch off 500 holders as a prototype, according to AdvertisingAge, and the company says it plans to scale up production in the coming months.