You’ve probably used scissors to snip plastic six-pack rings at some point in your life to prevent them from entering a body of water and suffocating a turtle or bird.
The beer brand Carlsberg wants to get rid of that scenario altogether.
The Danish company is introducing a sustainable alternative to the single-use six-pack ring — a recyclable glue that holds the cans together, according to the Guardian.
Take Action: #SayNoToPlastic
The glue has been field-tested to endure strenuous situations and various temperatures, and it makes a snapping sound when a beer is removed from the pack. When the beer is all gone, the glue can be recycled along with the aluminum.
Through this new method, Carlsberg is able to reduce the plastic found in each six-pack by 76% and will eliminate 1,200 tons of plastic each year, according to the company.
The shift comes as the movement against plastic waste in the oceans reaches mainstream acceptance and consumers demand greater corporate responsibility.
“It’s great that Carlsberg has made this move,” John Hourston, founder of the marine conservation nonprofit Blue Planet Society, told Global Citizen. “Better late than never.”
“We’ve known about the harm that plastic six-pack rings can cause to wildlife for decades,” he added. “This just goes to prove that without public pressure and/or government legislation, huge corporations will only act at the very last minute, if at all.”
Plastic six-pack rings are primarily known for the painful harm they can cause marine animals, which accidentally get the circles enclosed on their necks or a limb.
You might not think it to look at the items on the left, but for birds, fish, turtles & seals they can be deadly. (I took them off a national park beach last night.) Netting items like this & six pack rings are on #PEI beaches in their thousands. Please #HikeAndBag#Oceanspic.twitter.com/sIrBhBcpme— Hashtag Hike and Bag (@HikeAndBag) June 23, 2018
Baby turtles, for instance, can get six-pack rings stuck on their shell and then as they grow, the ring acts as a constricting device, deforming the turtle’s body.
These containers also cause harm even when they’re cut apart because animals can accidentally consume them, and then become poisoned or starve to death as their stomachs fill up with indigestible matter.
More broadly, plastic waste is causing great harm to the world’s oceans. Up to 13 million tons of plastic enter bodies of water each year, clogging ecosystems, destroying coral reefs, injuring animals, and leaching toxins.
Other beverage brands are investing in alternatives to plastic six-pack rings, including one brewery that made an edible six-pack ring that sea creatures can get nutrients from.
Companies in a variety of sectors are also moving beyond single-use plastic. In the past year, multinationals like Starbucks and McDonald’s have vowed to get rid of single-use plastic straws, grocery stores in the US and UK have gotten rid of plastic bags, and companies like Lego are revamping their product materials to reduce on plastic.
Carlsberg’s decision shows how a significant investments are being made into viable alternatives.