Edible Six-Pack Rings to Help Protect Marine Animals
We Believers, an ad based out of New York, together with Saltwater Brewery, a craft beer brand in Florida, decided to tackle the issue of ocean plastic head on and make a statement for the whole beer industry to follow.
Chris Gove, one of the founders of Saltwater Brewery, and his co-developers have designed and manufactured edible six pack rings; a packaging design that instead of killing animals, feeds them. By using byproducts of the beer brewing process such as barley and wheat, the edible six pack rings are the first ever 100 percent biodegradable, compostable and edible packaging implemented in the beer industry, says Katelyn Perkins, spokesperson for Saltwater Brewery.
Americans drank 6.3 billion gallons of beer in 2015. A full 50 percent of that volume is sold in cans, and according to the Beer Institute the number is expected to grow substantially as craft breweries continue to increase their market share and embrace the can and move away from the bottle. Beer liquid maintains its quality much better inside a can since light does not spoil it. It also provides an airtight container that is oxygen free to preserve its flavor.
The problem with cans is they come together with plastic six-pack rings. For a long time, it was one of the best packaging design solutions. It is lightweight, resistant and easy to carry. With only a few grams of plastic, the beer industry had a superb design solution for millions of cans and took advantage of this for years.
However, many plastic six-pack rings end up in oceans and pose a serious threat to wildlife through entanglement or from ingesting the plastic. They can subsequently die of malnutrition as their digestive systems get clogged. According to Greenpeace, 80 percent of sea turtles and 70 percent of seabirds are ingesting plastic today. This amounts to 1,000,000 birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles dying each year because of plastic related incidents.
The new material has been found to be as resistant and efficient as the current plastic six-pack ring option. If most craft brewers and big beer companies implement this technology, the manufacturing cost will drop and be very competitive compared with the current plastic solution, says Perkins. The material they are in the process of patenting together with a small startup of young engineers in Mexico has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of marine lives if more widely adopted across the food and beverage industry, she says.
“For brands to be successful today, it is no longer about being the best IN the world. But rather, being the best FOR the world and take a real stance.”
Chris Gove opened Saltwater Brewing in 2013 with four childhood friends and is an avid surfer and devotee of all things aquatic, including marine life.