You’ve probably seen the heart-wrenching photos of the damage plastic six-pack rings can do to marine life. They tangle the wings of sea birds, choke seals and warp the shells of growing sea turtles.
A Florida brewery has a solution: six-pack rings that can either biodegrade or serve as a snack for wildlife. After years of research and development, the rings – made of wheat and barley – are now popping up in south Florida stores.
Saltwater Brewery, a craft microbrewery in Delray Beach, developed the rings with a startup called E6PR. Troubleshooting and manufacturing the rings was expensive. E6PR hopes other breweries – both small and large – will buy into the new rings and help bring costs down.
Plastic pollution is a big issue for the Gulf of Mexico. According to recent research by Louisiana State University, the Gulf has one of the world’s highest concentrations of marine plastic. Each net or bottle dipped into the Gulf by LSU researchers came up laden with plastic.
“We found it every time,” LSU’s Mark Benfield told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune in August.
Last year, a volunteer beach cleanup on three miles of Elmer’s Islandgathered more than 170 plastic six-pack rings, along with 4,000 pounds of other trash.
According to Craftbeer.com, E6PR is testing the rings with “a select group of craft breweries” but the company wasn’t ready to discuss specifics. Time will tell if any Louisiana breweries incorporate the rings.