The folks who’ve been working to design an eco-friendly alternative to plastic six-pack rings are rolling their product onto store shelves.
Eco Six Pack Rings (E6PR), are made with all-natural ingredients, including straw and wheat fiber, according to the company, which was founded last year. The full formula is not divulged to protect the proprietary value of the product.
While sturdy enough to hold a half-dozen drinks, E6PR is intended to fall apart, preventing the environmental damage of their plastic predecessors. Instead of remaining a danger of sea life, birds, and animals, “[t]he product will degrade in less than 200 days (depending on the ecosystem).”
Regular Plastic Rings
Traditional rings were long considered efficient for toting a six-pack from the store to the refrigerator or party. But evidence of the damage caused by plastic six-pack rings has led many to call for their elimination, along with other single-use plastics. Biodegradeable alternatives, such as the Hi-Cone flexible #4 plastic six-pack ring have also been introduced to resolve the plastic pollution problem.
Plastic six-pack rings are also potentially dangerous for turtles, seabirds, and other wildlife that nibble on them or get entangled in them. A rescued red-eared slider turtle named Peanut is a tragic and famous example. Peanut’s shell was stuck inside a plastic ring, apparently for years, and grew into an odd peanut shape.
E6PR production began earlier this year in Mexico and is marketed to breweries and microbreweries around the world. Several jumped have on board.
E6PR is described as biodegradable and compostable. “When disposed of properly, the E6PR finds its way to a compostable facility, where it will degrade in days, and when, unfortunately, left out in open land or a water system, it will degrade in a matter of weeks,” the website states.
Although the product is not intended to be edible, it would be safer than plastic if ingested by animals, the company explained. “Everything is 100-percent natural, biodegradable, compostable and if accidentally eaten by wildlife, it will be digested with no harm done,” says Marco Vega of We Believers, one of the firms involved in the project.
While ocean and environmental advocates applaud efforts to reduce plastic in the environment, some note it’s impossible to evaluate its eco-friendly qualities without knowing the full range of ingredients. Also, it’s important to note that even a degradable product should be disposed of responsibly. Until it degrades, the rings are probably sturdy enough to entangle an animal, says Gwen Lattin of Algalita, a research foundation focused on plastic pollution.
Where To Purchase
The E6PR website includes information on breweries that are already using or are intending to use non-plastic packaging. Among them are breweries in the United States; Cape Town, South Africa; and Australia.
Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida, is using E6PR exclusively for its six-pack cans.
“Saltwater Brewery was founded in 2012 with a mission not only to brew good beer, but to give back to our oceans,” says spokesperson Katelyn Gove. “The Eco Six Pack Rings help to further our mission by keeping plastic out of our landfills and out of the sea.”
Trey Atwood, president of Cross-Eyed Owl Brewing Co., in Decatur, Alabama, also plans to use E6PR on all his company’s six-pack cans, even if it is a bit more expensive than plastic packaging. “We’re a river city,” he says. “It’s worth it to pay a little extra to be more conscious and responsible for this planet.”