AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine's tenacious insistence on "green" packaging could help make plastic holders for beverage six-packs obsolete.
Imperial Packaging Inc. of Missouri told state lawmakers it has patented a cardboard alternative that could go into mass production if it's commercially viable.
In 1989, Maine lawmakers voted for the nation's first and only ban on plastic six-pack rings, saying birds and other creatures were becoming entangled in them and choking to death.
But they delayed enforcement of the ban, giving manufacturers time to come up with a safer alternative. The measure will take effect in July, unless lawmakers decide otherwise.
Meanwhile, manufacturers of plastic rings are becoming pessimistic about the prospects for a safer product. ITW Hi-Cone of Illinois, the leading maker of plastic rings, says prototypes of an improved plastic yoke either failed to break automatically when a can was removed or ruptured prematurely.
In another green initiative, Maine in 1990 became the only state to ban aseptic containers, or drink boxes, as part of a bill aimed at reducing trash volume.
Makers of the boxes have lobbied unsuccessfully to repeal the ban.