B.C. brewery pilots compostable four-pack beer ring carriers

Quesnel, B.C. based Barkerville Brewing is trying to reduce its plastic waste by testing the effectiveness of a new biodegradable four-pack beer carrier.

The Eco Six Pack Ring, or E6PR, is made from compostable materials using waste products generated in the brewing industry such as plant fibres, barley and wheat, said Meghan Lackie, sales manager at the northern B.C. brewery. 

"[It's] awesome because it closes the loop on waste generation," said Lackie.

Plastic pollution has long been a concern in Canada. A report by consulting firms Deloitte and ChemInfo Services found that in 2016 in Canada, only nine percent of plastic waste was recycled. 

Submitted by Barkerville Brewing

Plastic rings specifically, have made headlines because some animals have been strangled by them. However, these biodegradable four-pack rings can easily be broken down. 

"They're technically edible although we don't advocate eating them," said Lackie. 

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Lackie and a few others at the brewery did a taste test, and found they're "pretty stale."

"But I think the point there is that if they did end up being disposed of in an improper manner they wouldn't be harmful to wildlife if they were consumed," she added.

Barkerville Breweing is one of only a handful in Canada to try the product created by a Mexico based startup, which partnered with an American ad agency. Geo Cider in Squamish and Phillips Brewing Company in Victoria are also using the product.

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The brewery is piloting the rings on their four-packs of beer to see if the public, as well as their stakeholders, such as liquor store managers, like them before they dive all the way in and invest in a year's worth of rings, Lackie told Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk. 

Regular plastic rings cost the brewery 11 cents each, but these compostable ones ring in at 56 cents each. However, if Barkerville Brewing orders a year's worth, that could bring the price down to 35 cents each.

"It's kind of a big investment for us for just a small business and we just want to make sure it's the right move,said Lackie.

So far, they've received a lot of positive feedback on social media, with the initial post they shared on Facebook and Instagram reaching more than 18,000 people. 

By using compostable rings, the brewery could eliminate 22,000 plastic four-pack rings a year. 

"I think if we can buy a year's worth and get the price down I think people would be would be willing to pay a little bit more to do the right thing," Lackie said.