Approximately 40% of all plastic produced today is used for packaging that is used once then thrown away. Think of the plastic rings that hold together a six-pack of beverages. Even if you intended to, there is no way to reuse those rings for their intended purpose once the six-pack is gone. Companies use plastic packaging because it is convenient and cheap to make. However, it can have a significantly negative effect on the environment, particularly marine life.
In addition to recycling, one of the best solutions for decreasing plastic waste is replacing single-use plastic packaging with alternatives that are better for the environment. For example, those plastic six-pack holders could be replaced with eco-friendly six-pack rings.
Why Are Plastic Six-Pack Rings So Bad for the Ocean?
Out of all the plastic waste that eventually makes its way into the ocean, plastic six-pack rings account for only a tiny percentage. Nevertheless, the harm that they can cause to marine life is vivid and dramatic.
One of the problems with plastic six-pack rings is that marine life can become entangled in them. Sometimes the animals die as a result because it affects their ability to breathe or to catch food. In other cases, the animals survive being entangled in the plastic rings but are unable to extricate themselves, and their development is stunted as a result. For example, Peanut the turtle became entangled in the plastic rings when young and small. The plastic caused the warping of her shell as she grew so that it was more of an hourglass shape rather than round like it was supposed to be. Peanut was eventually rescued, but her internal organs were permanently underdeveloped, meaning that she could not be released back into the wild.
Entanglement is not as big a problem as it used to be. Federal law now requires plastic six-pack rings to be degradable, meaning that they break down within a few months. In most cases, the rings are photodegradable, meaning that the breakdown of the rings happens in response to exposure to direct sunlight. While this helps to prevent marine life from becoming entangled, it causes another problem. The plastic keeps breaking down into smaller pieces but doesn’t disappear from the environment completely. Marine animals, including fish, can then ingest these micro-plastics that can harm them and anything that feeds on the animals, including humans.
What Are Some Options for Reducing Plastic Waste?
Since plastic packaging is responsible for a significant portion of the problem, one possible solution is to swap out packaging for more sustainable alternatives. At the consumer level, this involves replacing single-use plastics for packages that can be reused. Examples include reusable bottles for carrying drinking water or buying shampoo in bars instead of bottles.
For you, as a producer, a sustainable swap may involve replacing the packaging that you are using now with an option that is designed not to harm the environment. For example, E6PR rings from KinsBrae Packaging are custom packaging sleeves that hold beverage cans just as effectively as their plastic counterparts but are designed not to have the same negative impact on the environment. Unlike plastic rings, eco-friendly six-pack rings are made of industrial byproducts. They are not petroleum-based, so they can help reduce your carbon footprint, and they are biodegradable so that they do not leave a polluting residue behind when they break down. They are durable enough to stand up to long-term storage if needed, but they are made of materials that wildlife can digest if accidentally swallowed.
Be Part of the Solution With Eco-Friendly Six-Pack Rings
With no interventions by industry or government entities, 99 million tons of plastic waste could end up in the environment within the next ten years. Plastic rings may be familiar, but there are other solutions that are just as effective without endangering the environment. Solving the problem of plastic waste requires the adoption of innovative solutions. Find out more about how our E6PR product could help your business become more socially responsible.