Apparently, plastic rings got a bad rap in the animated film Happy Feet. Hi-Cone, a leading beverage packaging company, says “not fair” to the movie's presentation of wildlife endangerment from improperly discarded plastic rings from beverage carriers.
In the film, one of the animated penguin characters — voiced by Robin Williams — returns to his habitat with a ring carrier around his neck. “That's a misleading and irresponsible characterization,” says Steve Henn, vice president and general manager at Hi Cone. “It's a shame the producers of Happy Feet didn't do their homework on this subject.” Henn notes that plastic rings are designed to disintegrate almost completely from exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Henn says the packaging industry has worked for years to change misconceptions of the biodegradability of plastic rings. “Since the late 1980s, we've been trying to correct misrepresentations about ring carriers by working with scientific and environmental organizations to communicate how advances in plastics' technology have made them completely biodegradable,” says Henn. He explains that plastic rings exposed to the sun, wind and rain will break apart. “The risk for wildlife endangerment is almost nonexistent today because the photodegradable rings lose their strength and become brittle.”