Thursday, May 31, 2007

People, You Don't Need to Cut Holes in the Soda Can Plastic Rings Anymore


Every so often, I still see someone piously taking out the scissors to thoroughly carve up a six-pack plastic ring, or "yoke" before disposal. When I see someone do this, they throw me that look. The "I pity you" look. It's the look that says "Maybe YOU don't cut up the plastic rings, Mr. Choke-a-fish, but some of us have a little compassion."

What the sanctimonious yoke snippers don't seem to get is that they already won this fight. You don't have to cut up the six-pack plastic rings anymore because they're all photodegradable now, and have been so for almost 20 years. US and Canadian law demands they be photodegradable, and the one company that makes them, ITW Hi-Cone, bends over backwards to demonstrate how environmentally friendly they are. Did you know they're all made from post consumer product and are made from 30% less material than a generation ago?

Leave them out in the sun for more than two weeks and they disintegrate. Throw them in the ocean and they float to the surface and disintegrate. There's really nothing bad you can say anymore about six-pack plastic rings. They're used in arts and crafts. The days where you could see humorous sights like this are long, long gone.




But cutting up the rings is just one of those leftover behaviors that you can't get anyone to shake off. It's been drilled in so well that you have to cut up the rings. It's a relic. It's like how every gas station still screams out "UNLEADED" 30 years after it's necessary. It's like the people who are still fighting the battle against styrofoam and preaching about saving the whales.

That's it for today. I was actually working on a grand treatise about which supermarket items it's okay to buy the generic versions of, and which items really demand a brand-name purchase - but now that I've taken such a hard stance against branding, maybe it wouldn't be appropriate anymore. It's just... diet coke is so much better than diet rite... I have to admit I'm conflicted here.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having only just read this I have to say, it takes a lot less than two weeks for a bird to get caught and choke to death. And I don't see what's hilarious about it either.

Anonymous said...

As you said in your blog, soda can rings photodegrade. They don't biodegrade. Photodegradation means that the items breaks down into the smallest polymer. Meaning the plastic rings, in sunlight, break down into microscopic polymers, commonly mistaken for plankton. Once a polymer, always a polymer. It will stay in the water column/environment forever. Fish, birds, shellfish, marine animals and mammals then starve because they don't receive needed nutrients. Our oceans are turning into plastic soup! I agree with the previous comment. It takes less than two weeks for an animal or bird to get caught. Makes for very poor nesting material as well.

Jennifer said...

I wish I could post you a picture of the cat that I found that has a plastic yoke imbedded in him. He is about 3 years old. I guess it did not photodegrade.

Anonymous said...

I admire the people who take the time to cut up their six-pack rings. While I personally do not know how long it takes them to "photodegrade" (and it sounds like they don't fully disappear at all, in fact), it's better safe than sorry.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you either offer a rebuttal to the comments on this post, or unpublish it, because lots of people won't scroll down as far as the comments, and it's my opinion that they'll leave here misinformed.

Anonymous said...

Fuck you. Your text is misleading.

Anonymous said...

i agree with removing it. I"m glad I scrolled down.

Anonymous said...

While well intentioned, this shows the problems of the internet with well intentioned people without training in science commenting on scientific subjects. These plastic rings are composed of the polymer polyethylene. This polymer is a chain of connected single ethylene molecules. When polyethylene degrades, it turns back into these single ethylene molecules, NOT little.microscopic polyethylenes.

Polymer Polyethylene is a solid.
Monomer Ethylene is a gas.
In normal everyday biological processes, plants make ethylene gas. It causes ripening of fruit such as apples and bananas. I still cut the rings before I put them into my
recycle to help prevent animals becoming entangled.
However, there is plenty of ethylene gas aldeady in the environment from plants, not plastic rings.

We need to fight the REAL environmental threats, not misinformed imagined threats.
( written by Mark. A university biochemist. )

Anonymous said...

I find it really cool that the plastic six pack ring carriers are photodegradable. But if the carriers float at the top of the water, aren't birds like albatrosses, who eat food that floats above the water, still affected by these ring carriers? They may be able to throw up the plastic, but their babies die with it in their stomachs.

Anonymous said...

This article is incorrect and doing a big diservice to the animals. The plastic rings take up to 3 months to degrade, and even then, they remain as smaller pieces of plastic. If you have a recycling service, cut the rings and put in the recycling bin. If you don't have a recycling service or center nearby, you can mail them to the one company who manufactures them, and they will recycle them. Here's the link: www.ringleader.com


Ashley Hunt said...

Take this blog post down! I was looking up information on yokes and this article popped right up! Take it down, please! I can't believe you didn't consider the fact an animal can die from this in less then 2 weeks!

Anonymous said...

The post is misleading at best. Cut your rings and recycle them.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to correct the mistake made by the author.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! So sad to see so much incorrect information about scientific topics from people on the Internet. But looking through the rest of this blog I'm not surprised to see misinformation like this. Very sad. Thank you for the clarification. As well as including your background

Anonymous said...

You are an idiot. Check out some of the pictures of animals caught in those rings and suffering a SLOW DEATH!

Anonymous said...

The year is now 2016 and the original, 2007 misinformed article is still one of the first to pop up when searching for information on "plastic soda rings". Yikes

Gerard Johnson said...

I completely agree. And I disagree with calling anyone sanctimonious for being considerate.

Anonymous said...

So I snip the rings. Hurts you?

Anonymous said...

It is April, 2016 and this post is still up. Why?? And who cares if someone cuts up the rings, why does this affect the person who wrote the blog. Like, get a life and do some scientific research before posting mis-information. At least there is considerate people out there who show they care about the animals by cutting up the plastic rings prior to throwing the plastic in the garbage or recycling. I can attest that so long as I live, I will be cutting up my plastic rings. Who knows, I may get reincarnated as a seagull or a fish!! Kevin from Kelowna, BC, Canada

Anonymous said...

Absolutely need to remove this information. It is scientifically incorrect, and morally wrong. I have a niece who is a scientist with Ocean Research Project who collects plastic from the ocean to analyze. The percentage of plastic pollution continues to rise world wide. Even if the rings degrade partially in the ocean, they still remain plastic pieces which continue to harm all living creatures from small fish, seabirds, turtles to dolphins and whales. Please remove this post, it is misleading and inappropriate!

Shaz H said...

Takes 3-4 weeks for the photodegradable plastic to sften and break down. Imagine the damage it can do flying around near the ocean for 3-4 weeks.

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Augustine said...

I can't stand when people are so bothered by little attempts to do good that they have to prove how useless it all is. I guess it's easier to write this blog post than to... Idk... Cut up some six pack rings...?