Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Chicago area firm says 6-pack rings aren't animal threat

Most companies would be overjoyed to have their product in "Happy Feet," the nation's most popular film.

But Itasca-based ITW Hi-Cone, the industry leader and inventor of plastic six-pack rings, isn't happy over the use of its "yokes" in the new cartoon film. Hi-Cone is calling "misleading and irresponsible'' a story line involving a penguin who nearly is strangled after he gets one of the binders caught around his throat.

Hi-Cone Vice President and General Manager Steve Henn says Warner Bros. Entertainment "didn't do its homework,'' and the company is asking moviemakers to clarify the depiction of the rings in upcoming DVD releases.

Henn acknowledges that wildlife can get stuck in the yokes. The Ocean Conservancy environmental group reports that international coastal cleanups since 2000 have turned up 191,789 six-pack rings. In that same time period, 894 fish and birds have been discovered entangled in man-made debris, though fishing line is the top offender.

But since 1989, under federal law, six-pack rings have been 100 percent photodegradeable -- they disintegrate in sunlight, beginning in just a few days, Henn said. Creatures overwhelmingly escape from weakened and brittle rings, he said: "A penguin couldn't wear it that long'' because it would crumble.

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