Despite rising awareness on environmental issues over the past decade, pollution remains a massive issue, especially where it should be seen the least: on the beach. One pollutant in particular – the infamous plastic six-pack rings – has long posed a threat to the well-being of marine life. As a result, the Saltwater Brewery has concocted a plan to replace plastic rings with a more sustainable, eco-friendly alternative.
Using leftover grains from their beer brewing process, the Saltwater Brewery has partnered with the New York ad agency We Believers to develop six-pack rings that are both edible and biodegradable. With over 100,000 marine animals and 1 million sea birds dying each year due to plastic consumption, some environmentalists believe the brewery’s new rings could be a “game-changer”.
Traditional plastic six-pack rings are photodegradable, meaning they break down when exposed to light, but they take 90 days to completely break down in the ocean. The brewery’s rings, however, are biodegradable, meaning that they can be broken down by microorganisms. Even larger organisms – humans included – can consume the rings without disrupting their digestive systems, which is often an effect of consuming the plastic rings.
At the moment, the Saltwater Brewery is the only company producing these biodegradable rings, but the company is hopeful that others will adopt the new product. The costs of the eco-friendly packaging are higher than those of plastic packaging, which raises the price for consumers and producers alike. While higher costs are often a turn off, the brewery believes that the environmental importance of the product will attract others regardless.
“We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board,” said Chris Gove, president of the Saltwater Brewery.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, brewers in Tampa Bay are already interested in the brewery’s rings.
The biodegradable packaging is not on the market yet – the brewery has only developed a prototype, and developers are still trying to perfect production. According to Bo Eaton, the brewery’s co-founder, the rings underwent months of redesigning and testing before the first round of rings was even created.
Located in Delray Beach, Florida, the brewery describes itself as a “way of life”. Since the end of 2013 when the Saltwater Brewery was opened, company employees have been dedicated to their love of the ocean just as much as the art of brewing. The company, whose goal is “to maintain the world’s greatest wonder”, regularly donates to ocean-based charities such as Surfrider and the Ocean Foundation.
With a team so dedicated to preserving the ocean, the Saltwater Brewery is riding the wave of the future.
By Carina Vo