It’s no secret that plastic is one of the biggest environmental issues we face today. It takes decades to decompose and causes the death of thousands of marine animals. In 2016, We Believers, an ad agency based out of New York City, and Entelequia, an engineering firm based out of Mexico, came up with the Edible Six Pack Ring (now E6PR or Eco Six Pack Ring).
Holding true to its beginnings, E6PR has once again teamed up with SaltWater Brewery in Delray Beach, Fla., the first brewery to use the mass-produced E6PRs made from by-product waste from the beer making process and other compostable materials. Designed to replace plastic rings, E6PRs are 100 percent biodegradable, compostable, plastic-free and the first real environmentally friendly alternative to the current plastic packaging solutions.
“We see so much potential in this innovative product as a game changer,” said Marco Vega, cofounder at We Believers, which together with Entelequia and a group of seasoned investors in the beverage packaging industry, has partnered to form E6PR. “What started as a simple idea to create awareness around the issue of plastic waste has evolved into a very real opportunity to revolutionize the beverage packaging industry and have a positive impact on the environment. More than 50 percent of beer consumed in the U.S. is sold in cans, a trend that is only expected to grow in the near future. Most of the material used to hold these cans is still plastic.”
Hoping to help change the world one six-pack at a time, E6PR has worked closely with Chris Gove of SaltWater Brewery to feature the sustainable rings on the Florida-based brewing company’s line of Screamin’ Reels IPA. The new packaging has now arrived to some of the largest U.S. retail supermarkets and liquor store chains in South Florida such as Whole Foods Market, Total Wine and More, Publix Super Markets, ABC Fine Wine and Spirits, Lucky’s Market and is expected to come to many other retail stores very soon. This is only the beginning for the company, whose love for the environment and wildlife is at the center of their efforts to work with a select group of craft breweries in testing their product in the North American market.
“Together, we can all be advocates for a clean and safe environment,” said Chris Gove, cofounder and president at SaltWater Brewery. “With the help of E6PR, we would like to inspire the entire beer industry to follow our lead. We are proud to be the first brewery using E6PRs for our cans. Our goal is to transition all of the packaging in our facility to this six-pack ring alternative that goes beyond recycling and strives to achieve zero waste.”
In the ocean, E6PRs gradually disintegrate in a few months and are designed to be as ecologically harmless as possible during that time. The natural properties of the E6PR prevent it from threatening wildlife — unlike plastic — which often traps animals or harms their digestive tracts, leading to severe injury or even death. While “animal safe,” E6PRs are also structurally sound for the purposes of customary packaging and can last years in storage within a standard warehouse environment.
After undertaking rigorous testing to ensure the product performs comparatively to its plastic counterpart and remains as environmentally safe as possible, the company has entered a new chapter. Going beyond simply creating awareness about the harmful effects of discarded plastics, E6PR’s ultimate goal is to have the greatest positive impact on our environment by establishing their product as an industry-leading solution worldwide.
“If most craft brewers and big beer companies implement this technology, we will potentially be saving hundreds of thousands of marine lives as a result,” said Francisco García, the engineer behind the project, cofounder at Entelequia and now COO at E6PR. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we hope to continue to highlight the value for companies, big and small, in dedicating themselves to being environmentally responsible.”
The E6PRs will be available to all breweries, but the company is currently working in stages. As production grows, all breweries that have expressed interest will be offered the E6PR as soon as possible. E6PR is also exploring additional opportunities to leverage the technology they developed for the packaging, as it can be used in the manufacturing of other solutions for companies that offer a variety of canned or bottled products.
“We are currently working with the standard beer can model. However, our packaging can be produced to fit different sizes — and in the long term — we intend to make it so it can accommodate all cans and bottles available in the market,” García added. “E6PR was born out of two beliefs. Passion drives innovation. Innovation drives positive change. So, we’re happy to see how putting nature first has translated into creating a cutting-edge product that is as good for business as it is for the environment.”
- It is estimated that over eight million tons of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year. By 2025, that figure is expected to double.
- One million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
- Packaging is the largest end-use market segment accounting for just over 40 percent of total plastic usage.
- More than 50 percent of sea turtles have consumed plastic.
- Plastic has been ingested with dire consequences by some 700 species of marine wildlife.
- Over the last 10 years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
- Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
- Only 5 percent of plastics are recycled effectively, while 40 percent end up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems such as the world’s oceans.