Edible six-pack rings save sea life

Sun‚ sea and beer. It’s the South African way of life.

But‚ out in the ocean‚ sea life suffers as the plastic rings that hold six-packs together kill animals‚ deform them by constricting their growth when they get tangled‚ and generally make them sick or disrupt their role in the ecosystem.

Now‚ a brewery in Florida‚ in the United States‚ has come up with an innovation that will not only reduce that threat but will actually feed the sea creatures instead.

According to Peter Agardy at Saltwater Brewery: “We ideated‚ designed‚ tested and prototyped the first ever edible six-pack rings.

“These are made with by-products of the beer-making process that instead of killing animals‚ feeds them.

“They are also 100% biodegradable and compostable.”

When beer is brewed‚ two of the main by-products resulting from the process are wheat and barley. These are now being recycled as the “main components” of the edible six-pack rings.

According to global NGO Clean Water Action, marine plastic pollution has impacted at lease 267 species around the world including 86% of turtle species‚ 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammal species.

“Seabirds that feed on the ocean surface are especially prone to ingesting plastic debris that floats‚” the NGO found.

Saltwater Brewery wants more breweries to follow suit by switching to edible six-pack rings.

They say that if more companies bought into the new product‚ production costs would drop to the extent that the usual plastic six-pack rings would have some stiff competition.

Last year, the 20th International Coastal Clean-Up took place in September.

At the time, John Kieser‚ of sustainability manager at Plastics|SA‚ said plastic micro debris was the biggest problem when it came to beach litter.

“This year’s results have also shown a marked increase in the number of paper bags [as used by the fast food industry]‚ food wrappers and multi-layered crisp packets collected along the coastline‚’’ he said.