Several breweries have experimented with ways to eliminate plastic six-pack rings in an effort to create more environmentally friendly packaging. Carlsburg introduced plastic-free, glue-based “snap” six-packs, and Saltwater Brewing in Delray Beach, Florida, has packaged its beers with barley- and wheat-based rings for years. Now, an even bigger beer brand is joining the club: Corona.
Beginning next year, Corona will pilot these biodegradable six-pack holders in Mexico and the U.K., according to a release. The packaging, manufactured by E6PR, can degrade in days in a composting facility, or weeks in the ocean or on open land. It’s also made of organic materials that wouldn’t harm wildlife if accidentally ingested.
Plastic waste in the ocean is a scourge, to be sure, but even regular six-pack rings aren’t as toxic as they once were. Since 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency has mandated that all six-pack rings be degradable; according to National Geographic, most companies meet this requirement by producing six-pack rings that degrade in light.
One manufacturer, Hi-Cone, tells National Geographic it would take about 3-4 months of cloudy, wintery conditions for one of its six-pack rings to break down, during which time animals could still consume the smaller plastic bits as they degrade. Given that, it seems like a switch to organic, paperlike material would be a welcome switch for beverage packaging.
Hopefully, Corona’s move is well received when it debuts overseas, inspiring other beer companies toward similar measures. And because Corona is owned by global alcohol conglomerate Constellation Brands, this packaging could potentially be applied to other brands without that portfolio in the future.