Scientists have known for years that the convenient plastic rings used to hold six-packs of beer or soft drinks together are harmful to wildlife and bad for the environment in general. However, until recently, there were no real mass-market alternatives available. That has all changed with the introduction of eco-friendly six-pack rings, which do the same job without harming the environment.
The Problem With Plastic
The biggest problem with plastic is that it is not biodegradable, which means that it remains in the environment indefinitely. Plastic waste in the oceans has collected into miles-wide islands of floating garbage. The omnipresence of plastic in the ocean poses additional problems for marine life, including fish and seabirds:
- Suffocation: Animals that get caught in plastic or choke on it may not be able to breathe and die from suffocation.
- Entanglement: Animals that get caught in plastic do not always suffocate from it, but entanglement may affect their ability to function. The effects may be either short-term or long-term. For example, in one instance a young turtle swam through a plastic ring and got stuck. As it grew, the unbreakable pop ring constricted it, compressing its internal organs and giving it an abnormal hourglass shape.
- Ingestion: When animals ingest plastic rings, they don’t always choke on them. However, the plastic is non-digestible, so it breaks down in their stomachs, resulting in micro-plastics in their bodies. Sometimes the microplastics are already in the environment and the animals swallow them as they eat their food. Both fish and birds have been found to have microplastics in their stomachs. Sea turtles are also known to have ingested plastic.
- Toxin Exposure: The chemicals used to make synthetic resins may be toxic, which is another reason why ingesting the plastic rings may be harmful to wildlife.
The Solution Offered by Eco-Friendly Six-Pack Rings
Eco-friendly six-pack rings, abbreviated E6PR, were created from the cooperation between an advertising agency and a brewery that were both committed to helping the environment. The innovative custom packaging sleeves are made from a blend of byproducts of barley and wheat left behind by the process of brewing beer. The rings are then produced with a 3-D printer.
E6PR rings contain no plastic and are completely biodegradable. They are intended to be composted and used to add nutrients to the soil to promote the growth of garden plants and crops. However, if they do get into the environment, they will biodegrade and not cause any long-term harm to the environment.
E6PR rings are also edible. They are not food; they have no taste and no nutritional value, and they should not be intentionally fed to animals. However, if an animal happens to ingest part of the E6PR ring, it will not be harmed. Any part of the ring that the animal ingests will be digested and pass naturally from its body, leaving no dangerous materials behind.
To be clear, the E6PR rings are intended to be disposed of properly by either composting them or putting them into the trash. They are not intended to get out into the environment, but if they do, they won’t cause any long-term ill effects.
The Clear Advantage Over Plastic Rings
Some of the dangers of plastic rings can be mitigated if the consumer cuts them up, making it more difficult for wildlife to become entangled in them. However, this puts the responsibility for helping the environment solely on the end-user rather than requiring the manufacturer to shoulder some of it. Furthermore, cutting up the rings does nothing to prevent problems arising from wildlife ingesting the plastic.
Eco-friendly custom packaging sleeves for four-packs and six-packs are a versatile solution for beer, wine, spirits, and soft drinks. Find out more about their unique features.