We recently shared an innovative idea of the brewery Carlsberg. To avoid plastic waste, the brewery went to go without the packaging of six-packs. Instead of using plastic rings to stick a six-pack together, they simply glued them together. With our last blogpost before the closing of our startup competition, we want to show you another unusual solution that the startup “E6PR” has found for packaging beer. You now might think that “E6PR” is the brother of C3PO from Star Wars, but it actually is the name of the startup behind one hell of an idea.

Let’s first take a look at the primary plastic production in the industrial sector in 2015. We can obviously see that an immense part of the production is contributed through packaging. Nearly 150 million tonnes per year are used for packaging. Consequently, this production leads to a big amount of waste that needs to be disposed of, but is mostly just thrown away leading to pollution all around the globe.

You have probably seen some of the heartbreaking pictures of animal wildlife struggling with plastic waste. Nearly every day we stumble upon new pictures of the effects of plastic pollution on marine wildlife above all. There are three key pathways by which plastic debris can affect wildlife: Entanglement, Ingestion and Interaction. Plastic rings are especially known for trapping and strangling wildlife, making them part of the entanglement pathway.

The startup E6PR now declares war on this pollution through what might be a groundbreaking way of packaging. Maybe you can find some inspiration in reading their story. In collaboration with a small local brewery in Florida they were looking for an idea to replace the conventional plastic rings around six-packs that are a threat to marine wildlife. E6PR (short for “Eco Six Pack Ring”) developed new six-pack rings made out of wheat and barley, waste products of the brewing process. These rings are biodegradable. Biodegradation is the process of the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms. Plastic bottles for example need 100 years to biodegrade in a marine environment whereas the new six-pack rings will biodegrade in less than 200 days!

But the Eco Six Pack Ring has another advantage. Due to its composition of wheat and barley, it is edible! That means that it can “serve as a snack” for wildlife instead of being a threat to them (although its taste is probably debatable). More important is the fact that the materials can easily degrade, unlike plastic. After their successful start with the local brewery in Northern Miami, E6PR now expands their production of their six-pack ring to other breweries. Meanwhile breweries in Africa, Europe and even on the Solomon Islands, an island-group of Papua New Guinea, use the Eco Six Pack Ring. A further possibility for the startup is to transfer their idea to soda packaging.

We are interested in your opinion. What do you think is the better solution to avoid the plastic waste in form of six-pack rings? The Carlsberg glue-solution or the eco six-pack from E6PR? Can this sort of packaging be the packaging of the future? Let us know in the comment section!

We think that this idea is a great example of using waste (wheat and barley) to prevent the production of further waste. This is the kind of creative solution we are looking for with our startup competition. Who are we? We are Global Pioneers. Global Pioneers is a global sustainable startup accelerator program for young startups and entrepreneurs just like E6PR. We are close to finishing our first Global Pioneers batch (application deadline is the 28th of February). If you want to see your idea come alive and create your own sustainable startup be quick to join our program! Send in your application and get the chance to win our funding as well as our know-how-support!