The amount of plastic on Earth today weighs more than 1 billion elephants—and this number is only expected to increase in the years ahead. Fortunately, many small businesses and budding entrepreneurs are actively developing new technologies and products to reduce our world’s plastic consumption.
Plastic six-pack rings were developed in the 1960s to hold beverage cans, and they quickly created an environmental crisis as they made their way into neighboring bodies of water. By 1987, it was projected that 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals were being killed each year by six-pack rings. Like other single-use plastic products, these rings threaten both wildlife and human health. Entanglement is of large concern when discussing the negative impacts of plastic rings. Creatures on land and in the ocean can easily become trapped in discarded rings, which causes limited mobility, feeding ability, and even death. In addition, animals will mistake plastic objects as food items, leading to intestinal problems or poisoning from chemicals used in manufacturing. Humans may be ingesting an alarming amount of plastic as well. Sunlight causes plastic to slowly break down and fragment into small pieces called microplastics. The microplastics are then ingested by animals that humans eat, such as shrimp and clams.
Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida is combating all these issues through their development of six-pack rings made from malt, barley, and wheat, rather than plastic. This local brewery was founded by fishermen, boaters, and ocean lovers with a passion for ocean conservation. Not only are these rings 100% biodegradable, they are also safe for consumption. This means that if the packaging ends up in the ocean or other wildlife area, animals who come into contact with them can eat the rings without any risk. As an added benefit, the barley and wheat for the rings comes directly from the leftovers that were produced during the brewing process. According to the Miami New Times, the president of Saltwater Brewery would like this new product to “influence the big guys and hopefully inspire them to get onboard.” The Eco Six-Pack Rings (E6PR) can now be found on beers produced in 7 different countries. Learn more at https://www.e6pr.com/.
Do you know of any other small businesses that help to reduce plastic pollution?
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