Spurred on by pictures of marine animals tragically trapped in the holes of plastic six-pack rings, many of us have dutifully cut up these plastic rings around our soda and beer six-packs confident that no bird, fish, or sea turtle will ever get ensnared in our plastic. The problem, however, goes deeper.
Since 1994 the plastic rings have a photodegradable additive. But this only means that the ocean wave action and sunlight will break down the plastic into smaller and smaller pieces, and fish and filter feeders will then eat those pieces adding those chemicals to the food chain. To make matters worse, the tiny pieces also attract toxins.
Enter PakTech. PakTech has created new recyclable carriers that are made with 96% recycled plastic. Although the CanCarrier contains four times the amount of plastic than the usual kind, when it is shipped, the Can Carrier doesn’t require shrink-wrap or cartons to keep cans on a pallet and therefore both waste and shipping weight are reduced. Also, the production process uses 94 percent less water and releases 85 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the manufacture of cardboard six-pack holders, according to PakTech.
A microbrewery in Delray Beach, Florida took it one step further this past spring: edible six-pack rings made from by-products of the brewery process, wheat and barley. The rings are also 100 percent biodegradable and compostable, breaking down soon after they hit the water. Some scientists, however, express concern that residue from the fermentation process which may contain high levels of phosphorus and silicon could also be found in these rings.
Fishbone Packaging has just started producing a cardboard design that uses less paper than traditional cartons and no plastic. Cardboard is easily recyclable and biodegradable, unlike some plastic.
So, the next time you pick up a six-pack, consider the packaging.