By now, we’ve all seen the images: A turtle with a plastic six-pack ring around its midsection like a too-small hoola hoop; a seagull wearing one around its neck like a choker (in this case, literally).
Examples of our waterborne waste abound. In 2010, 8 million tons of plastic ended up in the ocean on a global scale. (New research suggests even that number is a serious underestimation.) Plastic litter has turned up everywhere, including the deep sea and buried deep in Arctic ice, according to the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research.
Of all the human waste that ends up in oceans, plastic beer six-pack rings are one of the objective worst. They break down over months, endangering marine wildlife that come into contact with the object. If animals get entangled by the plastic, it can lead to suffocation, strangulation or starvation due to a limited ability to feed.
In response, Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida, has recently created edible six-pack rings, a brand-new approach to sustainable beer packaging.
These six-pack rings are 100 percent biodegradable and edible—feeding, rather than killing, marine life. If they end up in the ocean, they start breaking down in a matter of hours, not months or even days. Constructed of byproducts of the brewing process—in this case barley and wheat—they were first adopted by the brewery’s main brand, Screaming Reel’s IPA, and the goal is to produce 400,000 per month, to cover the brewery's current production every month.
Safe for humans and wildlife alike to consume, we only recommend drinking the beer at this time.