If you are a fan of animated films, you will most likely remember Lovelace in Happy Feet – the clairvoyant Rockhopper penguin with a six-pack ring caught around his neck. While this character is both obnoxious and funny as he dispenses answers to the other penguins, Lovelace brings forth an important topic that has been begging to be addressed for quite some time now– ocean plastic pollution.
We produce about 300 million tons of plastic each year. Eight million tons end up in our ocean which in turn get ingested by or get entangled on marine life. At the rate we are going, it is predicted that by 2050, nearly every species of seabird will accidentally ingest plastic debris. And we are not yet even mentioning the damage plastic pollution brings to other marine life such as sea turtles, sea lions and whales.
Seeing this massive problem, the startup Eco Six Pack Ring introduced the concept of a biodegradable, compostable, and environment-friendly beer can holder. The company developed the packaging from wheat and barley, so in case one of these beer can holder rings find its way to the sea, the packaging will serve as animal feeds instead of being a hazardous material choking or harming the marine life’s digestive system.
Since its introduction in 2016, E6PR has gone through multiple testing and changes in the prototype to make it sturdier and be able to withstand each step of the packaging and transporting process. Francisco Garcia, COO at E6PR shares “Bringing the product to the level of performance that we have right now was really challenging. Engineers went through multiple iterations of prototypes to create something sturdy enough to work in each step of the process, from packaging machines and warehouses to shipping and retail shelves”.
Early Adoption from SaltWater Brewery
One of the early believers of this concept when it was first introduced in 2016 was SaltWater Brewery – a craft microbrewery in Delray Beach, Florida. In fact, they were the first brewery to use and implement this edible six-pack rings. The brewery is now using E6PR in their Screamin’ Reels IPA which is available to purchase in the Tasting Room and in select South Florida stores such as Publix, Total Wine & More, Whole Foods Market, Lucky’s Market, and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits.
Saltwater Brewery is hoping to drive home the message of protecting marine life by connecting to their primary targets – surfers, fishermen, and people who love the sea. They would also like to further the cause by influencing and bringing in more breweries and beer companies to adopt the E6PR. By the looks of it, SaltWater Brewery’s environmental and social business responsibility efforts are paying off. More breweries and major players in the beer industry are getting onboard. E6PR is working with a major beer company and factories, both in the US and abroad to conduct real life tests in order to scale production and answer to the demands of the industry.
Americans consumed 6.3 billion gallons of beer in 2016, 50% of this consumption is from cans. A total of 8 million tons of plastic being dumped in the oceans every year. 100,000 marine creatures die each year from plastic entanglement. Imagine how the bold change to edible, biodegradable six pack rings can impact this statistic.
Would you pay a little extra for your six pack of beer if it would feed wildlife rather than put them in danger?