As many as 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from getting trapped in six-pack rings, according to Saltwater Brewery. And it turns out that cutting the rings doesn’t even guarantee the animals’ safety, because turtles and other sea creatures often die from eating the plastic debris as it floats through the ocean. Using wheat and barley that would otherwise be discarded from the beer-making process, Saltwater Brewery’s biodegradable six-packs are completely edible for any sea creature.
Saltwater Brewery says this is the first 100% biodegradable and edible six-pack packaging to make it to market in the beer industry. The brewers partnered with an advertising agency called We Believers to come up with the idea, and then create functional prototypes. “The creative solution we bring forward has the potential to influence how we do sustainable packaging with zero waste and no impact on wildlife,” said Marco Vega, co-founder of We Believers. Saltwater hopes that the environmentally friendly six-pack solution will gain traction thanks to the company’s fans and customers, many of whom are surfers and fishermen.
The price of Saltwater Brewery’s edible six-pack rings is admittedly higher than its dangerous plastic predecessor. But Saltwater argues that if larger brewers and beer industry leaders followed suit in saving the environment, producing edible six-pack rings would quickly become a financially viable solution with competitive pricing that could beat out the plastic rings that most beer companies use now. “Production cost is expected to be between 10 and 15 cents per piece and could drop to be even lower. Very much on par with existing recyclable plastic alternatives,” said Vega. Production will begin later this year, promising to bring the edible six-pack rings to a beer shelf near you.