Feature article

Six-pack packaging with a purpose

Contributing Editor
By using byproducts of the beer brewing process, this packaging goes beyond recycling and strives to achieve zero waste.

Americans drank 6.3 billion gallons of beer in 2015, and 50% of that volume was sold in cans to preserve flavor. Cans are commonly packaged with plastic six-pack rings because they are lightweight and easy to carry. Unfortunately, these plastic six-pack rings can end up in oceans and pose a threat to wildlife because of the potential for entanglement and ingestion.

We Believers, a co-creation advertising agency in New York, together with Saltwater Brewery, a craft beer brand in Delray Beach, Florida, ideated, designed, prototyped, and manufactured Edible Six Pack Rings. Instead of killing animals, the packaging feeds them, says Chris Gove, president and co-founder of Saltwater Brewery.

“By using byproducts of the beer brewing process such as barley and wheat, this packaging goes beyond recycling and strives to achieve zero waste,” says Gove. The product is pending patent approvals, so the complete list of ingredients used in making the Edible Can Rings could not be divulged.

The Edible Six Pack Rings are 100% biodegradable, compostable and edible, and if not ingested, the product takes 60 to 90 days to disintegrate when in contact with water.

Production cost of the rings, says Gove, is expected to be between 10 and 15 cents per piece, which he says is on par with existing recyclable plastic alternatives. “If most craft brewers and big beer companies implement this technology, the manufacturing cost will drop and be very competitive compared with the current plastic solution.”

Saltwater Brewery plans to deliver the product to the market by the end of the year, pending regulatory approvals. And while currently focused on the edible can rings, Gove says the company would like to develop additional single-use items in the future. 

Saltwater Brewery

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