For any student or resident of Keene, a typical walk down the street featuring beer trash on the ground is a regularity.
Recently, Saltwater Brewery, located in Delray Beach, Florida, along with New York City-based ad agency We Believers have created edible six-pack rings, a six-pack ring that feeds animals instead of killing them. Now any beer drinker can enjoy a beer without worrying about the environmental damage from the leftover trash.
These rings are much different from the plastic rings people may see on the streets of Keene after a weekend. These edible rings consist of leftover wheat and barley from the beer making process, assuring that nothing goes to waste. In order to create these edible rings, We Believers’ co-founders Marco Vega and Gustavo Lauria teamed up with the president and co-founder of Saltwater Brewery, Chris Gove.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the three were considering how to be more environmentally friendly. After noticing the large amount of trash Vega and Lauria were able to produce from a single meal, the two then decided to take the responsibility off of the consumer. They decided to use the abundance of wheat and barley from the brewing process in order to create an edible plastic ring.
According to the Los Angeles Times, shortly after imagining the idea, the three manufactured 500 working prototypes using a 3D printer and produced and published a video showing off their creation.
According to the video, Americans drank 6.3 billion gallons of beer last year, 50 percent in cans, in which a portion of the plastic used ended up in the ocean. It is stated in the online video that the edible rings are just as “resistant and efficient as the plastic six-pack rings.” In the video, the Head of Brand for Saltwater Brewery Peter Agardy said, “It is a big investment for a small brewery, created by fishermen, surfers and people that love the sea.”
Though discarded plastic six-pack rings are not abundant in the ocean, they do cause problems for marine life when they end up there.
According to Marine biologist Mark Tokulka, “Around the world, an estimated 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles become entrapped in plastic or ingest it and die.”
Personally, I always thought as long as I cut the rings around my cans so animals would not get entrapped, I was doing my part for the environment.
Fisherman Russell S. Haas begs to differ. Haas said, “People think that cutting the rings is enough, but birds and turtles eat the plastic either way.”
People might wonder if this transition to edible rings will add an extra cost to their beer. As told in the online video, if most craft breweries and big beer companies implemented this technology, the manufacturing cost would drop and be very competitive compared to the current plastic solution.
Moving away from plastic has the power of saving hundreds of thousands of marine lives. This edible ring is the first 100 percent biodegradable and edible pack implemented in the beer industry. Since the rings are made of biodegradable ingredients, if the rings do end up in a landfill or on the streets of Keene, the rings will decompose faster, thus remaining ecofriendly even out of water. Vega said, “We feel truthful about finding a solution to use ways to reduce the carbon footprint, and that’s to use byproducts of the beer processing as it exists right now.”
As of right now, consumers are not able to purchase a six-pack with the specialty rings outside of the Saltwater Brewery. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The next step for the team is to build a hydraulic mold that can handle making 200,000 units a month.” If this happens, Saltwater Brewery will then be able to use the rings on all of the beers they make, allowing beer drinkers all over the country to become environmentally friendly while indulging during the weekends.
Unfortunately for KSC students and residents who are interested in putting their beer money into more environmentally friendly breweries, Kenton Battey, a worker for the Monadnock Food Co-op, informed me they do not carry the beer. Jackson Huslander, a worker for Hannaford’s informed me they do not carry the beer.
Although Dave Perrey from Price Chopper also said they do not carry the beer, but Perrey claimed they would look into getting the beer.
On the other hand, a spokesperson for Market Basket refused to comment.
Gove said, “We want to influence the big guys and inspire them to get on board.”
Large corporations such as Anheuser-Busch rely on people like you and me for their profits. Without consumers continually buying their beer, they will not be able to continue business. Unfortunately, I am assuming, like myself, most people do not think of marine life or where their plastic rings will end up when buying beer.
Now that the technology is available to produce edible rings for beer that are just as efficient without the negative environmental effects, large corporations should take notice. If they decide to stay in the dark concerning the issue of where their waste ends up, consumers have the ability to boycott their products. Keep an eye out for Screamin’ Reels IPA at Price Chopper in the near future, distinguished by an edible ring holder consisting of wheat and barley, rather than plastic.
John Piatelli can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org