The future is here, and it’s arrived in the form of six-pack rings that are safe for marine life. Florida’s Saltwater Brewery created the rings, which are made of barley and wheat remnants from brewing, and are completely safe for fish to nibble on. (And humans, too!)
Standard rings, made of plastic, are no bueno for sea critters. According to the Ocean Conservancy’s 2015 Ocean Trash Index, plastic was the most common item of trash ingested by sea turtles in 2015. And it’s not just sea turtles: 57 marine mammals, 440 fish and 22 sharks, skates and sting rays were found entangled in plastic by the 561,895 volunteers that picked up 16,186,759 pounds of trash for the study.
And the plastic problem isn’t just because of dirty, rotten litterers: plastic rings are easily picked up from open trash cans and blown away by the wind. If that plastic ends up in a storm drain, it will eventually get to the ocean.
Which is exactly what Saltwater Brewery hopes to end with its edible six-pack rings. “It’s a big investment for a small brewery created by fisherman, surfers and people that love the sea,” Peter Agardy, head of brand at Saltwater Brewery, says in the video below.
The biodegradable rings are a first for the beer industry, and required a bit of clever engineering on Saltwater’s part. “Besides being 100% biodegradable, compostable, and edible, it had to be strong enough to hold the weight and the typical handling of the cans,” Francisco Garcia, chief engineer at Enteliquia Inc. explains.
But they accomplished the task — and now they hope the idea will take off with other breweries. According to the video, if other breweries got on board, the extra cost of manufacturing the edible rings would eventually drop to the point of being competitive with plastic rings.
“We hope to influence the big guys,” Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says. “And hopefully inspire them to get on board.”
Check out the full video below: