This week, Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages announced their new paper packaging that will replace the plastic ring holders on can multipacks, commonly referred to as “six-pack rings.” Liberty Coca-Cola reports that the transition from plastic to the paperboard packaging system, which is the first of its kind in the United States, is projected to remove 75,000 pounds of plastic packaging annually from the supply chain.
In 2019, Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale) introduced legislation (A.922/S.486) aimed at reducing plastic use and safeguarding marine life by banning the use of plastic to hold beverages together. The impetus for the bill came from a seventh-grade student in Pelham Middle School through the fourth annual “There Ought to Be a Law” contest sponsored by Assemblywoman Paulin. The essay contest, open to students from grades six to eight in the 88th Assembly District, asks students to identify a problem impacting New Yorkers that could be solved by creating a new law.
The contest winner, Bennett Wies, wrote a compelling essay discussing the State’s insufficient regulations on photodegradable plastic and proposed further regulations on single-use plastic devices used to connect beverage containers, commonly referred to as “six-pack rings.” Assemblywoman Paulin agreed that the time had come to update New York’s regulations and introduced legislation inspired by Wies’ proposal.
While Coca-Cola initially opposed the legislation in 2019, they met with Assemblywoman Paulin to discuss the bill and remained committed to exploring the feasibility of more sustainable packaging practices. Three years later, Liberty Coca-Cola proved their commitment and announced their decision to transition into sustainable packaging practices.
“I never cease to be impressed by the many essays we receive each year, and how the students who write them demonstrate so much empathy, critical problem-solving skills, and creativity,” said Assemblymember Paulin. “This announcement from Liberty Coca-Cola is proof that while these students may not yet be able to vote, they can have a strong influence on public policy by engaging with their state government.”
“I would like to thank Assemblywoman Amy Paulin for the opportunity to participate in ‘There Ought to be a Law.’ It was an unforgettable experience. Plastic six-pack rings are one of the most harmful materials to marine wildlife, so I am honored to play a part in their replacement,” said Bennett Wies.
“Liberty Coca-Cola is a model for the industry, showing that this can be done cost-effectively and on scale,” said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. “I will continue to fight for environmentally friendly six-pack rings throughout the State and thank Liberty Coca-Cola for setting this important and positive example in New York State.”