Over 100,000 sea wildlife get choked and strangled by plastic six-pack rings per year. These animals include whales, seals, sea birds, squids, turtles, and more.
While we were doing our research, we found that the 6 pack rings are photodegradable, meaning that under sunlight over a period of 3-4 months they can break down. However, they still contribute to the ‘Great Pacific Garbage patch’ — a Texas-sized garbage patch of plastic which is causing immense harm to the animals.
Plastic marine pollution is injuring and killing fish, seabirds, and marine mammals.
Plastic in different forms harms marine animals.
To solve this problem, we thought that we could use biodegradable plastic, so that even if the six pack rings weren’t disposed of properly, it still would not harm the animals. We wanted to make the 6 pack rings of a material that even if animals eat it, they would be fine.
Desirable Characteristics of plastic
Plastic should be strong yet flexible.
We tried several recipes. These recipes included corn starch and vinegar. Some prototypes were so brittle that they would not set in a mould. Others were so rigid that they would not bend.
We discovered that spoons made with potato starch are not degradable in a backyard. They degrade only in industrial compost facilities.
We ultimately liked the simple recipe of Gelatin, Glycerin, and water. It works great.
We will continue to improve our recipe to adjust ratios of how to make bioplastic strong yet flexible.
The benefit of our product is that the rings biodegrade and will also be edible (not tasty). This will minimize the amount to killed or injured marine animals by six packs rings and plastic in general.