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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ring Leader Recycling Program?

The Ring Leader Recycling Program is an educational experience, involving six-pack rings and the Three R's — Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. It is designed for implementation in both formal and informal educational environments to allow students to learn about and participate in the Recycling Process.

What does “photodegradable” mean?

The process whereby ultraviolet radiation in sunlight attacks a chemical bond or link in the polymer or chemical structure of plastic. Shortly after Hi-Cone carriers are exposed to the sun's UV rays, they begin to lose "structural integrity," and "elongation" decreases as they degrade. The carrier loses approximately 75% of its structural integrity in a matter of days. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays causes the rings to weaken and become brittle.

Continued exposure will cause maximum embrittlement in a matter of weeks. At this point, it will break apart when disturbed by wind, rain or other forces occurring naturally in the environment. Wind and rain will break up the brittle carrier into small pieces. These small pieces are non-toxic hydrocarbons that can be a good mulch (a layer of loose material on the ground around plants that prevents evaporation of water from soil and helps stop the plants' roots from freezing).

How long does it take for photodegradable six-pack rings to break down?
When exposed to summer sunlight, a photodegradable plastic ring carrier will begin to lose its strength in a short period of time and become totally brittle in about three to four weeks. This process can take 3 to 4 months in cloudy, cold winter weather. Once a ring carrier has been weakened by ultraviolet rays it poses minimal risk to wildlife.

Will six-pack rings break down in water?
Yes. The recyclable six-pack rings are lighter than water, causing them to float on the surface where they are exposed to direct sunlight. 

All Hi-Cone plastic ring carriers sold worldwide are made from a special low-density polyethylene plastic, which is 100 percent photodegradable.


How Can you Tell if the Carrier is Photodegradable?

All ring carriers sold in the U.S. must be degradable per EPA Regulation*. Various state laws also require that the carriers be marked with a small diamond symbol to indicate photodegradability. All Hi-Cone carriers have been manufactured to photodegradable standards for more then 20 years. So check for the Diamond symbol as shown on the right on multipacks and you can be sure that they are photodegradable.

The diamond symbol indicates the the plastic is photodegradable and in compliance with federal regulation.

*Per Public Law 100-556, Degradable Plastic Ring Carriers Law and Federal Law 40 C.F.R. Part 238.


Are Photodegradable Ring Carriers Toxic?

Independent testing laboratories found the photodegradable car to be nontoxic. It contains no heavy metals or toxic additives. As the carriers degrade, they breakdown into smaller and smaller pieces of inert, harmless material.

To see the complete information on the LDPE #4 and the tests for toxic properties, click here.

When recycled as waste to energy, photodegradable carriers offer a high energy source when incinerated, producing non-toxic residue. When recycled, they can be used in a wide variety of products.


Are Photodegradable Ring Carriers a Leading Cause of Entanglement?

What is entanglement?

Entanglement is entrapment of an animal by carelessly discarded litter.

What are the real facts about entanglement?

Environmental myth has a solid hold on the perception that six pack rings are a leading cause of entrapment. While ring carriers are part of the environmental landscape, fact of the matter is fishing line, rope, miscellaneous debris, plastic bags and the like, are far greater risks based on data from The Ocean Conservancy, International Coastal Cleanup, conducted annually since 1988.

What percentage of entanglements involve six-pack rings and how many animals were entangled?

International Coastal Cleanup, the only empirical database on debris on the ocean and waterways, has generated a substantial amount of statistics and data on debris and animal entanglements. The 2010 information from the Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup shows entanglements from 6-pack carriers to be less than 1% of the total entanglements, reporting a total of 4 animals entangled. To see more information on 2010 entanglements click here.

To view the 2011 Marine Debris Report from the Ocean Conservancy click here.

For a convenient fact sheet on multipack carriers, click here.


Why is minimal packaging better for the environment?

When packaging is subjected to an environmental test, the determinant of potential benefit or harm is mass. This is why the Hi-Cone carrier is highly sustainable packaging. Because the Hi-Cone ring carrier is so light in weight, there are lower overall environmental burdens for production and there are less pounds of post consumer packaging waste to manage at its end of life. Hi-Cone has decreased the amount of material in a recyclable six-pack ring by over 30 percent since the 1960s. Today, of the three major packages used for six-packs (plastic shrink-film, paperboard, and six-pack rings), recyclable six-pack rings produce the least solid waste by both weight and volume. For more information on the sustainable advantages of Hi-Cone packaging, click here.

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