Photo of 6-pack ring by Ruth Hartnup

Photo by by Ruth Hartnup

One of the earliest memories that I have in my head of plastic pollution being a problem is the efforts to ban the soda and beer 6-pack rings.  Images of dead birds with rings around their necks or turtles with misshapen shells were used to convey the message that using this handy feature had consequences.

We were told to snip each loop before tossing in the trash to limit the damage.  The responsibility to avert any damage to the environment was placed on the consumer rather than changing the product or manufacturing process.  That gradually changed but the first response to complaints of this nature is usually that it will cost more or be too expensive to change.

Novel efforts to “fix the problem” over time have included compostable, biodegradable and even edible rings.  Perforation was added to plastic rings and some companies switched to cardboard boxes.  Pretty good you might say (and it is).  All were successes to varying degrees, but cardboard is more expensive than plastic rings.  Retooling to add perforation is expensive. etc…

Sometimes all it takes is thinking outside the box (so to speak).

It looks like one company has finally figured out how to get rid of the extra packaging altogether.  Corona recently announced they are testing a new can design that can be screwed together top to bottom.  It’s called “the Fit Pack”.  They are making the new design open-source so other beverage companies can use the design.

It may be too early to call the problem solved…but it does show how important innovation is to addressing persistent problems.  Change is good.



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