These convenient rings that hold our drinks together are primarily made from photo-degradable plastics. These will break down rather quickly in sunlight compared to conventional plastics, months instead of centuries. There are drawbacks however.
One is that they are still petroleum-based meaning that they require heavy processing to produce and they often will not break down completely. This can leave microparticles floating in feeding areas, mingled with the plankton and kelp where the marine life will consume them.
Second, since additives are required to facilitate the breakdown process, mixing these plastics with other recyclable plastics, like condiment and soda bottles, can completely ruin the recycling process, rendering the renewed plastics unusable. Off to the landfill they go.
In Florida, the Saltwater Brewery - with the help of the We Believe ad agency - have created the world’s first plant-based beer rings. They are made from the wheat and barley used to brew the beer. They are completely biodegradable and, more importantly, edible should one ever make its way to an Ocean. It’s a small operation but a good example of how mindful businesses can do their part to make a positive, or least a neutral, impact on the environment.