Florida Brewery Creates Edible Six Pack Rings to Save Marine Life

photo courtesy We Believers
photo courtesy We Believers

This is just sheer awesomeness for marine animals, seabirds and, frankly, all wildlife (including the human kind)! Saltwater Brewery, a craft beer brewery located in Delray Beach Florida, in partnership with We Believers in New York, has invented six-pack rings made from barley and wheat, two by-products of the beer brewing process. The 3D-printed six-pack rings are 100% edible, biodegradable and compostable; so no matter where they end up, they aren’t harming the environment.

“Together with Saltwater Brewery, a small craft beer brand in Florida whose primary target are surfers, fishermen and people who love the sea, we decided to tackle the issue head on and make a statement for the whole beer industry to follow,” We Believers co-founder and chief strategist Marco Vega commented.

Saltwater Brewery president and founder Chris Gove says, “We hope to influence the big guys and hopefully inspire them to get on board.”

photo courtesy Saltwater Brewery
photo courtesy Saltwater Brewery

In addition to these ingenious edible six-pack rings, Saltwater Brewery is a friend to the environment in other ways:

We utilize a sustainable approach to brewing beer. All of our spent grain is used to feed local cattle. By local, we mean local, The cows are fed only 30 miles from the Brewery. All of the beef is free range.

We take pride in embracing the roots of brewing culture. Using only pure and natural ingredients, special care is given to each batch of hand crafted Beer. Saltwater Brewery is more than a craft brewing company; it’s a way of life. We opened our doors December 2013 with a team of Floridians, and 1 transplant, whose roots and values spur from a lifestyle that revolves around the ocean. Our goal is to maintain the world’s greatest wonder by giving back to the ocean through Ocean Based Charities (CCA, Surfrider, Ocean Foundation, MOTE). Our passion for making Quality Beer for you is the way we can ensure we give back to the ocean as much as possible! Come with us to “Explore the Depths of Beer”, Cheers!

“This is what we get when we don’t take care of Florida Bay”

There is a massive seagrass die-off in Florida Bay that experts say “is the latest sign we’re failing to protect the Everglades.”  Since the middle of 2015, approximately 40,000-acres of the bay have been affected with dead seagrass clouding the waters and creating a perfect environment for algae blooms; and this is not the first time this has happened..

[James Fourqurean, a Florida International University marine scientist] and government Everglades experts fear they’re witnessing a serious environmental breakdown, one that gravely threatens one of North America’s most fragile and unusual wild places.

Florida Bay is located at the southern tip of the Florida mainland, and is the terminus of the Florida Everglades. Covering around 1,000 square miles, it is approximately one-third of the Everglades National Park. Florida Bay is home to bottlenose dolphins, manatees, loggerhead sea turtles, Roseate Spoonbills, and the American crocodile. It is also the source of more than $80 million in the shrimp, lobster and stone crab industries, and it’s sport’s fishing “worth $ 1.2 billion per year, according to the Everglades Foundation.” The Florida Bay estuary is fed by the fresh water system that flows through the sawgrass prairies of the Everglades from  Lake Okeechobee, and it is the disruption of this fresh water flow that may be the cause of the seagrass die-off.

Fourqurean and fellow scientists think they know the cause of the die-off. It’s just the latest manifestation, they say, of the core problem that has bedeviled this system for many decades: Construction of homes, roads, and cities has choked off the flow of fresh water. Without fast moves to make the park far more resilient to climate change and rising, salty seas, the problem will steadily worsen.

Map of Florida Bay (credit: National Park Service & Laris Karklis of the Washington Post
“The southern Everglades, Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay are starving for water. It’s basically a permanent man-made drought, created by the drainage and development patterns to the north in the Everglades,” according to Robert Johnson, director of the National Park Service’s South Florida Natural Resources Center. “We’ve cut off the flow that historically passed through the Everglades and we’ve sent it to tide for flood control or we’ve provided it to urban and agricultural use for water supply.”

The result, he says, is a hyper-saline condition that negatively impacts Florida Bay.

In very salty conditions, waters hold little of the oxygen that seagrasses need to live. At the same time, other marine organisms turn to a different “anoxic” process – one that goes forward without oxygen – that has a nasty by-product: hydrogen sulfide.

The chemical “is a notorious toxin,” said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “It kills life, including human.”


And that’s just the beginning. Once the seagrass dies off, it becomes a feedback – the water becomes filled with dead grasses that release nutrients, and those can stoke huge algal blooms (which happened the last time around, but so far have not appeared en masse). That clouds the water and prevents light from reaching remaining seagrasses, which then also die, because they need the light for photosynthesis.

Sally Jewell, US  Secretary of the Interior, and Pedro Ramos, Superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, in the Florida Bay (Photo credit: Angel Valentin 2016-04-22)
Sally Jewell, US Secretary of the Interior, and Pedro Ramos, Superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, in the Florida Bay (Photo credit: Angel Valentin 2016-04-22)

Other scientists blame fertilizer runoffs from large-scale agribusinesses like “Big Sugar” for creating the algae blooms “on which bacteria feed, grow and then consume all the oxygen in the water. Further microbes thrive in this oxygen free environment, but produce toxic gases where nothing grows.”

Whatever the exact cause, it’s a man-made problem, and we need to fix it.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently visited Everglades National Park, plucked dead seagrass from Florida Bay, and told reporters, “This is what we get when we don’t take care of Florida Bay.”

For more on this story, be sure to read Chris Mooney’s full article in The Washington Post.