Our oceans are in crisis. The ecology of the seas suffers terribly from our massive plastic garbage problem. Plastic has even been found at the bottom of the deepest point in the whole ocean: the Marianna Trench.

Turtles, in particular, can get seriously injured or killed when they get tangled in the plastic rings used to connect six-packs of beer or soft drinks, or when they eat floating plastic bags thinking they’re tasty jellyfish.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Fortunately, one of those problems might have a solution!

A Florida brewery believes they can help end the scourge of six-pack rings ending up in the water. Their goal is to keep turtles and their marine friends healthy and happy, while maintaining the convenience of grabbing a six-pack from the grocery store. To that end, SaltWater Brewery, working in conjunction with startup E6PR, has launched the biodegradable/compostable/edible six-pack ring.

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The craft beer microbrewery, based in Delray Beach, Florida, now uses rings made out of barley and wheat instead of plastic. If the environmentally friendly packaging ends up in the ocean, it begins to break down within 2 hours – plus, it can be safely consumed by turtles and other animals. It should totally biodegrade within 2-3 months, on landΒ  or in the water.

South Florida stores already have the rings on their shelves.

The rings are the first of their kind, and the idea is an excellent one. But the innovation doesn’t come cheap. The Mexican company behind the development, E6PR, is marketing the packaging to other beverage companies in the hopes of both bringing costs down and encouraging the use of plastic alternatives in creative ways.

So, expect to see these on your favorite beverages in the near future (hopefully!).

Just an FYI, the manufacturer does not suggest that anyone actually eat the rings or feed them to wildlife. The best way to dispose of the eco-rings is to put them in a compost pile.

The use of biodegradable packaging is a great development for the Gulf region, which has one of the world’s highest concentrations of plastic trash.

Over 50 other beverage companies have expressed interest in jumping on the edible ring bandwagon, which is a great start to reducing their contribution to our current garbage crisis!