Edible plastic beer can ring holders

Most people will have seen images of wildlife caught up in our discarded trash before. Sea-turtles, fish, sea-gulls and other wildlife caught up in plastic and other human-made rubbish that finds its way into our oceans.

Once entangled in plastic refuse, animals are unable to free themselves causing much unnecessary suffering and even restricting the animal's natural growth.

A well-publicised culprit is plastic beer holders. With millions produced every year, they are among the most abundant examples of plastic pollution and it's damaging effects on our sea-life.

But a small brewery in Florida thinks they may have a way to help...

Biodegradable Six-Pack Rings

Using by-products from the wheat and barley used in the brewing process the Salt-Water Brewery have developed a new material that has the potential to save the lives of millions of marine animals. Natural waste materials from their everyday brewing process are utilised to create 100% biodegradable and edible 6 pack rings.

Does cutting the plastic with scissors help?

Many people these days will make the effort to cut their six-pack rings before they dispose of them so as to prevent marine life from becoming entangled but unfortunately this isn't enough.

The problem is not only that marine-life and other wild-life become entangled in the plastic but also that they eat the plastic which they cannot digest and which therefore builds up inside them causing, all too often, fatal consequences.

As Russell S. Heas, a fisherman and one of the founders of the Saltwater Brewery says:

“People think that cutting the rings is enough, but birds and turtles eat the plastic either way.”

Watch the Saltwater Brewery Video

Mark Tokulka, Marine Biologist  said in this video below from their website:

“Around the world, an estimated 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea-turtles become entrapped in plastic or ingest it and die.”

Scientific Studies

A report published by an American Scientific Journal, PNAS reports that about 90% of all seabirds will have eaten plastic at some point and as it can't be digested this plastic will most likely remain in their gut, gradually building up and causing harm to the animal.

Not only could all breweries eventually put their 'waste' to a more efficient and environmentally friendly use they could have a massive beneficial effect on the health of our oceans and marine life.

The Saltwater Brewery is a small craft brewery in Florida that was founded by surfers, fisherman and lovers of the ocean. Their company's goal is “to maintain the world's greatest wonder by giving back to the ocean through ocean-based charities.”

Ideally, rubbish wouldn't end up in the sea at all but as we don't live in a perfect world this is an excellent solution to the thousands of marine animals affected by this type of pollution of their environment.

How much does the biodegradable alternative cost?

Currently, they cost more to produce than their plastic counterparts; 25 cents, 17 pence per unit which is about 60% more than the recyclable plastic six-pack rings they currently use. However, the company are optimistic that their customers will be happy to pay a little more when they know of the huge positive impact this technology could have for the environment.

Also as more breweries adopt this technology the costs for manufacturing will drop to the point that this will be a more competitive option. Indeed The Saltwater Brewery has already been contacted by more than 50 craft breweries who wish to adopt the edible beer ring technology. Among them Carlsberg one of the biggest breweries in the world.

Interest from large companies

An article in The Guardian reports that Carlsberg has been in touch with the small Florida company expressing an interest in the new technology:

"We're looking into the possibility of using our byproducts more creatively" said Simon Hoffmeyer Boas, Carlsberg's director for group sustainability.

At a time when brands are eager to show their concern for the environment and how they can reduce or offset their environmental impact, Saltwater Brewery is hopeful other manufacturers will follow suit and help to reduce the production costs involved thus making it an even more attractive and viable option for the rest of the market.

Article written by Grant Taylor for Expert Skip Hire, Sussex.

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