A recent study found that 90 percent of seabirds have eaten plastic, and a lot of that plastic comes from the rings that hold together six-packs of beer, soda and other beverages. The marine life that lives in the oceans ingest plastics, too. These toxic plastics harm the health of our sea life, often killing them.
Saltwater Brewery in Florida created a six-pack ring that feeds animals instead of killing them. Many six-pack rings from beer end up in the ocean, so the brewery took barley and wheat remnants from the brewing process and turned them into an edible, compostable, biodegradable product that holds together a six-pack but doesn't harm birds or sea life if it ends up in the ocean. It's also strong enough to handle the weight of a six-pack.
The edible six-pack rings could help prevent some of this type of damage to seabirds and marine life. (Photo: Chris Jordan/USFWS)
This is the first time a 100 percent edible and biodegradable packaging has been implemented in the beer industry. The manufacturing cost of the edible six-pack ring raises the price of the beer, but the narrator of the video points out that if most breweries implemented this safe and sustainable product, the cost would be competitive with the plastic six-pack rings. Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved.
As of January 2018, the rings are being featured on Saltwater Brewery's Screamin’ Reels IPA. The new packaging is available in some supermarkets and liquor stores in South Florida including Whole Foods, Total Wine & More, Publix, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and Lucky’s Market, and is expected to be in more outlets soon.
Why has no one thought of this before? In addition to being impressed by this product, I'm wondering how quickly I can put together a business plan, get funding and partner with Saltwater Brewery to open up a plant that can produce edible six-pack rings for all breweries.
I bet there's money to be made from this smart, responsible idea.
Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was first published in May 2016.