Photodegradable vs Compostable vs Biodegradable Can Carriers: Which Is Best?

In the food and beverage industry, discussions on sustainability and ways to reduce our environmental footprint have become increasingly important to both consumers and producers, reflecting the growing desire to build a more sustainable future for our planet through daily choices.

As a responsible beverage company on a quest to find eco-friendly can carrier options, you have more than likely stumbled upon the top three sustainable choices within the beverage carrier rings market: photodegradable, compostable, and biodegradable. But is there a clear winner among these possibilities that is better for consumers, producers, and the environment?

In this article, we explore the differences between these eco-friendly can carrier options in regard to sustainability and performance. We break down the terminology and discuss the potential benefits and drawbacks of each so you can make an informed decision for your business.

For starters, all plastics are degradable; they will eventually break down. The challenge is the amount of time this process takes and the harm to the environment while waiting. Various additives and materials have been created to help speed up this process.

Overview of Photodegradable Can Ring Carriers

While you’ve likely seen companies market their “photodegradable” can rings, you should know all beverage can LDPE rings are photodegradable. The technology was created specifically for beverage can rings to help mitigate environmental risks. Photodegradable beverage can rings use a polymer that is broken down when exposed to UV light.

The downside: they have to be exposed to UV light. While this happens if the plastic ring is littered on the side of the road (which we do not recommend!), they aren’t exposed to light when they’re buried with other garbage at landfills and therefore never photodegrade.

Overview of Compostable Can Ring Carriers

Compostable beverage can rings are a type of plant-based or fiber-based beverage ring that’s eco-friendly and will break down completely over time — but only under certain conditions. This type of carrier is designed to be composted in a specialized composting facility or in consumers’ at-home composting bins.

Because only about 27% of American consumers have access to composting options via local recycling and garbage collection, and even fewer actually take part in composting, this is not always an ideal solution, with local infrastructure being the determining factor in deciding if this material is a viable environmentally-friendly option.

That being said, there are many advantages to compostable beverage can ring carriers. They are all plant-based (whether the advertised material is called “plant-based” or “fiber-based”, both are derived from plants), sustainable, and fully decompose in about three months — but again, only when composted.

Overview of Biodegradable Can Ring Carriers

A new option available within the last year or so, biodegradable beer and beverage can rings are an earth-friendly and environmentally clean option that will completely decompose in landfill conditions.

Regardless of the temperature, moisture level, presence of UV light, or other external conditions, biodegradable can ring carriers will break down naturally, without causing harm to the environment or wildlife.

This makes their advantages fairly obvious: They are eco-friendly, able to decompose in a variety of environments (without costly and time-consuming composting measures by consumers), and significantly reduce the total environmental impact of can carriers overall.

Which Option Is Right For Your Business?

The challenge with any of this is battling consumer perception, which is overwhelmingly against any type of plastic.

In reality, and when looking at the entire recycling infrastructure, plastic options are often more environmentally friendly than paper-based alternatives. In fact, many paperboard can carriers are coated in a thin plastic film to enhance durability — but largely unbeknownst to consumers, this coating must be removed completely to properly recycle the paper.

The choice is yours: Opt for products that are perceived as more sustainable or choose the most environmentally sound path, even if it means a bit of education is needed.

Grip-Pak™ Can Carriers Are Now 100% Biodegradable

At Roberts PolyPro, we are committed to designing and creating can carriers that are environmentally friendly and cost effective. By implementing lean manufacturing practices and reducing our overall plastic usage, we ensure our products meet the highest standards of sustainability while providing a great product to our customers at an affordable price.

If you’re considering purchasing biodegradable beer or other beverage can carriers, we’ve got great news for you: Our Grip-Pak low-density polyethylene (LDPE) can carriers are certified 100% biodegradable. This certification helps reduce our environmental footprint — and yours — while still delivering exceptional performance.

We partnered with an independent agency to conduct rigorous testing in controlled laboratory conditions that simulated an urban landfill environment. The results were impressive — the Roberts PolyPro Grip-Pak carriers biodegraded by 100% over 28 weeks without any false positives or false negatives.

Going green is an important initiative for many breweries and beverage companies, and now our biodegradable LDPE multipacks can support your sustainability efforts without compromising function and at a price point you can afford.

Helping the Environment Through Sustainable Packaging Solutions

At Roberts PolyPro, we're committed to using sustainable materials and manufacturing techniques to minimize our impact on the environment.

We're proud to offer high-quality products that meet the needs of our customers, whether you're a small craft brewery or a large beverage distributor. With our biodegradable can carriers, you can rest assured you're making a responsible choice for your business while contributing to a greener future.

Want to join us in our mission to promote sustainability? Request more information about our eco-friendly multipacking solutions.