Carlsberg Is Ditching Plastic Rings by Gluing Its Six-Packs Together

Carlsberg
Carlsberg

The humble six-pack is an environmental nightmare. Those familiar plastic rings are notorious for the danger they pose to marine wildlife, as animals often get ensnared in them, starving to death when they get their mouths caught. While the common solution is to ask consumers to cut up the rings before placing them in the trash, that’s only a stop-gap measure. Now, Carlsberg has come up with a new plan to rid the world of plastic rings altogether. According to The Telegraph, the Copenhagen-based beer producer has come up with a glued six-pack design that keeps beers together without adding extra plastic.

The Snap Pack design keeps beer cans together with dots of glue. The bonds are strong enough to withstand the jostling of transport, but not so strong that you can’t break them apart. (Unlike the thicker plastic holders used by craft beer companies, which can be a nightmare to use.) The design took three years to perfect.

Previously, a Florida-based brewery called Saltwater created an edible, compostable set of six-pack rings designed to make drinking beer a bit more dolphin-safe, but this eliminates the rings entirely. Considering that Carlsberg is one of the world’s top beer producers, the environmental benefit is pretty dramatic. The company estimates that the glued packs will reduce the amount of plastic used in traditional multi-packs of beer by more than 75 percent, saving around 1322 tons of plastic every year.

The Snap Packs will make their debut in the U.K. in September 2018, before being rolled out to the rest of Europe and the world.

[h/t The Telegraph]

A Cartoonist and Physicist Team Up to Explain the Universe in New Science Podcast

iStock
iStock

Have you ever wondered how galaxies formed, what constitutes dark matter, or what exactly lies inside a black hole? You’re not the only one. A new podcast called Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe is condensing these complex topics into 35-minute lessons that everyone can understand.

The podcasters who lent their namesake to the show are cartoonist Jorge Cham and physicist Daniel Whiteson. They previously teamed up to pen the 2017 book We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe, which explored some of the many unanswered questions about the world and how it works. Their new venture will tackle similar themes.

So far, they’ve produced two episodes, both of which launch today, and which address the questions “Is the Higgs Boson useful?” and “Are we living in a simulation?” The tone of the show is laid-back and conversational, so it’s easy for the uninitiated to follow.

“Think of it as your chance to sit at a bar with some cool scientists and getting to ask them all the things you always wanted to know about space, stars, particles, and the cosmos,” Whiteson, who conducts research using the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), says in a promotional video.

The podcast is a product of HowStuffWorks, which also produces Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class, The Daily Zeitgeist, and of course Part-Time Genius, from the pair who founded Mental Floss.

Oregon Launches the Country's First State-Wide Refillable Beer Bottle Program

iStock
iStock

Being a frequent beer drinker doesn't just affect your waistline. It's also not good for the environment—all those cans and bottles add up. But Oregonians soon won't have to feel guilty for the bottles piling up in their trash cans, because the state just launched the first state-wide refillable beer bottle program in the U.S., as NPR and EarthFix report.

Oregon breweries are selling their beer in thicker, heavier beer bottles that customers can return to be cleaned and refilled, just like the milk bottles of yore. Seven craft breweries whose beers are available in stores across the state are currently participating in the refillable bottle program, but the distinct bottles can be used and refilled at any brewery in the state, and the program will likely expand in the coming years.

The bottles, stamped with the word "refillable," are made from recycled glass and can be reused up to 40 times. The design was developed by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, and customers can drop them off at any of the group's 21 redemption centers. The organization also runs the state's general container deposit-refund system, so customers can bring them to the same locations as any other recyclables.

The thicker shape allows them to be separated out from other recyclables that get dropped off at bottle deposit sites, ensuring that they get sorted out to be refilled rather than recycled with standard glass bottles.

Oregon passed the first state bottle bill in the nation in 1971 as a way to encourage recycling. In 2018, the state increased the bottle deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents, hoping to increase redemptions. About 73 percent of metal, glass, and plastic recyclables were actually redeemed in 2017, up from 64 percent in 2016.

While refillable beverage containers aren't the norm in the U.S., other countries are far ahead of us. Some provinces in Canada have nearly a 99 percent return rate for their refillable bottles, and the average bottle is reused 15 times. Most beer in Germany is sold in mehrweg, or reusable, bottles, and consumers can return them to any store that sells reusable-bottle beer to get their deposit back.

Though the Oregon program is an environmental boon, the carbon savings won't be as high as they could be. Oregon doesn't yet have a bottle washing facility to process the refillables, so they currently have to be shipped to Montana for washing. Eventually, the program will set up some of these washing facilities in-state, increasing its utility.

[h/t NPR]

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