Categories
Human Effort Materials

120: Edible packaging

Problem:

Seafaring turtles and gulls die, ensnared and poisoned in the net like plastic rings that yoke six-packs of canned beverages together.

Solution:

Edible and 100% biodegradable six-pack rings.


In 2012, Chris Gove and Justin Jeffers founded of SaltWater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida, USA with a mission to not only brew good beer, but to give back to our oceans.

As part of this initiative, in 2017, they developed six-pack rings E6PR which are 100 % biodegradable and edible, constructed of barley and wheat ribbons from the brewing process. E6PR is said to provide the strength necessary to hold cans through distribution.

The carrier is also designed to be compostable, both on land and if left in a water system where the organic materials are said not to harm wildlife upon ingestion. Packaging is done on-site with the brewery’s in-house canning line, as well as their new in-line labeler for seasonal and special releases.

It took about 18 months for the sustainable packaging to be fully adopted throughout all of SaltWater’s distribution network. The rings developed by E6PR are now used by 35 brewers across the globe, including in Africa, Europe, and Australia.

The industry has yet to settle on a single supplier or format that could fully replace plastic six-pack rings. In 2018, Corona became the first major global beer brand to pilot E6PR’s technology, they are also considering interlocking cans that can screw into each other.

Molson Coors has vowed it would aim for all its packaging to be reusable, recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable by 2025. The Coors Light and Miller Lite brewer says an increased focus on finding sustainable packaging solutions is coming from all sides: consumers, retailers, and investors. They commissioned manufacturer Footprint to make compostable, biodegradable rings for a small test run of the craft brand AC Golden in Colorado.

Carlsberg is working with German supplier NMP Systems GmbH in using glue to adhere cans in a production method that the Danish brewer says would avoid using 1,200 tons of plastic annually, or the equivalent of 60 million plastic bags, once fully adopted. Carlsberg is also tinkering with the inks on labels to improve recyclability, using recycled materials in wrapping where plastic is needed and ending coal use at nine breweries in China as it aims for zero carbon dioxide emissions. (nmp.khs.com)

John Kell, “Beermakers Are Experimenting With New—and Sustainable—Six-Pack Designs,” Fortune, September 2, 2019.

What you can do: When buying cans or bottles of beverages, make sure that the packaging is biodegradable.

Discover solution 121: Edible water bubbles aka Ooho!

Support 366solutions on Patreon and receive the ‘366solutions Insider Newsletter’ with updates on the monthly progress and successes of published solutions.

Leave a comment