Corona has announced that it will be launching a pilot program in 2019 for 100 percent plastic-free six-pack rings, making it the first global beer brand to attempt such eco-friendly packaging. The company says it will introduce the new rings in select markets at the beginning of the new year as part of its commitment with Parley for the Oceans to lead the multi-billion dollar beer industry in doing its part to protect the world’s oceans from plastic pollution.

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Corona beer is mostly packaged with glass and fiberboard, but the company does see an opportunity for improvement when it comes to the six-pack rings. The industry standard plastic rings — made from a photodegradable form of polyethylene — break down into increasingly smaller pieces when they aren’t recycled.

Related: Danish brewer Carlsberg to swap plastic 6-pack rings for glue

However, the plastic-free rings that Corona will be testing are made from plant-based biodegradable fibers and a mix of by-product waste and compostable materials. When they are left in the environment, they are not harmful to wildlife and will break down into organic material.

“Our oceans are under attack. We are taking their life in rapid speed, destroying the chemistry that allows us to be here,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder and CEO of Parley for the Oceans. “Therefore, we are bidding on the few who take the lead in true change. The ones who are shaping the future with us. Corona is such an Ocean Champion, a powerful ally in our war against marine plastic pollution — and in building the material revolution that will lead us beyond it. We share the goal of phasing plastic out for good, because we simply can’t afford its toxic impact anymore.”

Approximately 8 MM metric tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans every year, so Corona has adopted Parley’s strategy to avoid and intercept as much plastic as possible while creating alternative solutions to plastic packaging. This reality is motivation for Corona to avoid plastic entirely, so it will be piloting the new rings in the company’s home country of Mexico at the beginning of next year. It also plans to test the new rings in the U.K.

Corona’s decision could have a major influence on the beer industry. The company hopes that this solution of plastic-free rings will become the new standard.

+ Corona

Images via Corona