Finally, One Brewery Is Taking on Plastic Pollution With Edible Beer Rings

May 24, 2016 | Reece Alvarez

Beer rings stuck on turtle
Photo credit: Screenshot from Saltwater Brewery video

This red-eared slider turtle known as Peanut was found in 1993, and is just one of many examples of the damage that plastic, and plastic beverage rings in particular, can do to animals.

The problem of plastic in the oceans is well-known, and photos of the damage, caused by everything from bottle caps and lighters to fishing line and beer rings, are easily found across the internet.

A 2015 study from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Imperial College London estimated that nearly 60 percent of all seabirds have plastic in their gut.

According to the study, in 1960, plastic was found in the of less than 5 per cent of individual seabirds, while it is now estimated that 90 percent of all seabirds alive today have eaten plastic of some kind.

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If current trends continue, the researchers expect plastic ingestion will affect 99 per cent of the world's seabird species by 2050.

Ingested plastic in dead bird

Sea animals not only get caught and tangled in plastic but ingest it as well, which overtime can prove fatal. Image credit: Claire Fackler, NOAA

One company, Saltwater Brewery in Florida, has decided to do something about this.

According to the company, Americans drink 6.3 million gallons of beer a year, 50 percent of which comes in cans held together with plastic rings that often end up in the oceans.

That's why the company, which markets its beer to fisherman, surfers, and people who love the sea, has decided to create 100 percent edible, compostable and biodegradable beer rings — a first in the beer industry, the company claims.

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According to the company, the beer rings are made of wheat and barley remnants leftover from the brewing process.

With so many different sources of plastic pollution in the ocean, the impact could be tremendous if more companies adopt biodegradable and eco-friendly plastic packaging.

Saltwater Brewery hopes that more companies within the beverage industry adopt the new packaging practice, as it would drop the manufacturing costs and make them very competitive compared with the current plastic packaging practice — saving hundreds of thousands of marine animals, according to the company.

“We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board,” said Chris Grove, president of Saltwater Brewery.

Learn more in this video by Saltwater Brewery:


Read next: The Amount of Plastic in the Ocean May Be Severely Underestimated

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