This Edible Beer Packaging Could Help Save Marine Life

(Image credit: Salt Water Brewery)

I remember watching a VHS tape about ocean conservancy in elementary school. The shades were drawn, the lights were dimmed, and my tiny little brain was assaulted with images of helpless sea creatures in various states of pollution-induced despair. The stand-out culprit? Plastic six-pack holders. We were taught to clip the rings before tossing the evil devices into the trash, and then to pat ourselves on the back for doing our part to save the oceans. But I think we all know — that’s not really enough.

It’s awful that trash ends up in the oceans at all, but the sad fact of the matter is that it does. According to the video below, an estimated 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles suffer or die because of plastic. Unfortunately, cutting six-pack rings only solves part of the problem because animals will still eat the plastic when they come across it.

With this in mind, a small brewery came up with a great solution: edible six-pack rings. The resulting rings are made of barley and rye leftover from the brewing process and are 100 percent biodegradable and edible. According to the video, the packaging would be cost-competitive if enough breweries adopt the technology.

Although grains aren’t the best food for fish, this is certainly better than the alternative. My only curiosity is over how this compares to paperboard in terms of cost and environmental friendliness. I tend to buy bottled beer, which usually comes in a paperboard caddy. I’m wondering if it makes more sense for companies to start implementing this material for more uses than just the six-pack rings, or if cardboard is better, cheaper, and easier to use.

Would you pay extra for this kind of packaging?