Edible Six-Pack Rings Could Save Marine Animals

ENVIRONMENT

A Florida brewery has come up with an idea that could save the lives of marine animals around the world: biodegradable and edible six-pack rings. (Time)

Use our activity to understand marine debris’ “legacy of litter.”

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

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Seabirds like this one are vulnerable to the perils of plastic. Click the photo to learn more about the edible plastic rings developed by a Florida brewery.

Discussion Ideas
Read through our activity “Marine Debris: A Legacy of Litter,” and adapt its questions to the innovative new technology.

  • What is marine debris?
    • Marine debris includes any manufactured solid material that enters the marine environment.

 

 

Multi-pack rings like this one are usually made of the durable plastic polyethylene, which is not biodegradable. An innovative alternative to polyethylene multi-pack rings was recently developed by a beer brewing company, but the technology could easily be adapted to any beverage sold in multi-packs. Photograph by Staecker, courtesy Wikimedia. Public domain.

Multi-pack rings like this one are usually made of the durable plastic polyethylene, which is not biodegradable. An innovative alternative to polyethylene multi-pack rings was recently developed by a beer brewing company, but the technology could easily be adapted to any beverage sold in multi-packs.
Photograph by Staecker, courtesy Wikimedia. Public domain.

  • Why are plastic six-pack rings so dangerous to marine animals?
    • Mistaken for food: Animals often mistake the gelatinous, clear plastic for food. This may injure them in two major ways: the plastic may be toxic or it may fill up the stomachs of marine animals so that they actually starve to death.
    • Entanglement: The ring shapes may entangle or strangle marine animals.

 

  • How does Saltwater Brewery’s innovative new technology reduce the impact of marine debris?
    • Saltwater Brewery’s six-pack rings are edible and biodegradable.
      • Edible: If they’re entangled, turtles and seabirds simply chew off rings, or even eat them.
      • Biodegradable: The rings are created from by-products of the beer-making process (barley and wheat). If the rings aren’t eaten, they simply dissolve.

 

  • Why aren’t more beverage companies investing in this technology?
    • Hopefully, they will! Because the technology is so new, the edible six-pack rings are more expensive to produce (and buy). As more industries adopt the technology, however, the price will likely fall.

 

The largest specimen of the leatherback sea turtle (reptile) (this one is swimming off the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean) reached almost 7 feet! Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

Sea turtles like this one are especially vulnerable to plastic pollution. They may eat the plastic or become entangled in it.
Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Time: These Edible Six Pack Rings Could Save Marine Animals

Nat Geo: Marine Debris: A Legacy of Litter activity

One response to “Edible Six-Pack Rings Could Save Marine Animals

  1. Pingback: Edible Six-Pack Rings Could Save Marine Animals — Nat Geo Education Blog – Welcome to the World of Ekasringa Avatar!·

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