Every year around 18 billion pounds of plastic flows into the ocean, dramatically impacting the health of marine animals and the environment. Forty percent of these plastics are considered ‘single-use plastics,’ (SUPs) with one the most infamous SUPs being six-pack rings. As far back as 1987, these carriers have killed as many as one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year, according to a report from the Associated Press. And even with regulation introduced in 1994 mandating degradable six-pack carriers, companies have still not been able to solve for this growing issue. Now, one company is making huge strides by not only introducing a plastic-free carrier, but incorporating its own byproduct waste in the process.
Last week, Corona brands announced it will trial 100 percent plastic-free six pack rings. The initiative will start in Tulum, Mexico, at the beginning of the year and expand to the U.K. by 2020. Corona is the first global beer brand to announce the use of sustainable six-pack rings. The rings are made with biodegradable, plant-based fibers, beer brewing byproducts (spent wheat and barley) and other compostable materials that are not harmful to wildlife when ingested. The new rings are just a part of Corona’s efforts to address ocean plastic through a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, a collaborative organization that addresses major ocean threats. The beer brand also committed to protect 100 islands from plastic pollution by 2020.
Replacing plastic six-pack rings with biodegradable alternatives may seem like a small step, but it’s a critical one. With the cumulative amount of plastic in the ocean expected to increase tenfold by 2020, sustainable alternatives are needed now more than ever. Not only is the ocean an important part of Corona’s DNA—the brand’s advertisements often drawing consumers to the beach lifestyle— the company is also responding to increasing consumer demand for companies to act for the environment. According to the 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Climate Change Snapshot, 58 percent of consumers say that in the absence of government progress, companies should take the lead on climate solutions and 57 percent said companies should create new products that are better for the environment. This game-changing shift sets an industry-wide precedent, staying true to the brand while addressing consumer demands.