The packaging is made from barley and wheat ribbons spent grain from the brewing process and represents a new approach to sustainable beer packaging.
3D printer-generated molds
Five 3D printer-generated molds were used to manufacture the first batch of 500 edible and biodegradable six-pack rings for Saltwater Brewery's main brand IPA.
Gustavo Lauria, founder/CCO, We Believers, New York, told BeverageDaily, if most craft breweries and big beer companies implement the technology, their manufacturing costs will drop compared to plastic alternatives.
"It shows that through innovation the little guys can point the finger at governments and big business to motivate change that impacts our world and one we will leave for our children," he said.
We Believers worked with engineers at a small start-up in Mexico, called Entelequia Inc. to produce the six-pack rings.
It plans to produce 400,000 edible six-pack rings per month, enough for the current monthly production of Saltwater Brewery. The first mass-produced batch costs between 10 and 15 cents per unit, for craft beer that costs more than $10 for a six-pack.
The resulting product claims to be not only biodegradable, but edible for fish and other sea life.
“They are safe for wildlife to eat, and sturdy enough to support the weight and handling of the cans,” added Lauria.
'It’s a big investment for a small brewery'
Saltwater Brewery based in Delray Beach, Florida, launched the packaging last month and it was introduced at local events and venues, including the Saltwater Brewery Beer Garden and nearby points of purchase.
Peter Agardy, head of branding, Saltwater Brewery, said it is understandably more expensive to produce, but many customers are willing to pay the difference knowing it’s better for the environment and animal life.
“It’s a big investment for a small brewery created by fisherman, surfers and people that love the sea but we hope to influence the big guys and hopefully inspire them to get on board,” he added.
Other manufacturers of recyclable packaging handles include PakTech, which makes a hard plastic cover that clamps to the top of a six-pack of cans, made from HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene).
Its CanCarrier has been adopted by Anderson Valley Brewing Company in California, Maui Brewing Company in Hawaii and Oskar Blues, Colorado.
Hi-Cone also produces photodegradable plastic thin rings which are lightweight and recyclable.