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.

Peanuts the turtle.

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.

Making the  prototype.

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.

Our product.

Path to a solution

Our initial research was targetted towards helping the monarch butterflies. We visited the Natural Bridges State park and beach to research them.  While we were there  we went to the beach where we saw a lot of plastic pollution and found how it affected marine life. We found out that plastic six-pack rings were very harmful to marine life.

We studied how they impacted marine animals and came up with the solution (Fantastic Bioplastic).

Tacobots at the beach

When we started making the six pack rings, we tried using corn starch and vinegar. Those recipes didn’t work because the plastic was either too brittle or too hard.

Finally, we made a simple recipe with gelatin, glycerin, and water.

How do we know it is biodegradable/edible ?

We put the 3 samples to test.

  • Our plastic takes about 5 weeks to biodegrade in water
  • In soil, our test failed because a squirrel ran away with it and ate it 🙂
  • In sunlight  — it photodegrades and becomes quite brittle.








…but is it edible ?

Adan at Quanta Laboratory decided to test by eating it.


How does it compare to the real plastic ?

Tacobots testing the tensile strength of Fantastic Bioplastic.

To test if our plastic is as strong and as flexible as normal plastic we went to Quanta Laboratories in Santa Clara.  When we reached there we were introduced to the tensile strength machine. First, we tried the normal plastic as the control sample. We recorded data on   how long it took to break. Then we put  our fantastic bioplastic to the test.

The Fantastic bioplastic has a tensile stress limit of 19 lbs while the plastic 6 pack ring is about 15 lbs.

Despite this , it is  easy enough for animals to break out.  We had multiple tests, but all of them recorded that the bioplastic was strong enough to hold the cans, but easy enough for animals to break out if they get stuck.


Testing data:

Regular Plastic 6 pack ring

sample 1 regular plastic loop




Bioplastic Sample

sample 2 fantasic bioplastic loop




Spreading awareness

To make people aware of this serious problem and our product we went to different places. These places included the Fremont Library, the Farmer’s Market, a marine biologist in Hayward, and the Sprout’s manager.

Tacobots at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center.

Anne, a marine biologist in Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center , was really impressed by our idea and she said, ” I’m aware how this is a serious problem and whenever I find these six-pack rings, I cut them up, so they don ‘t hurt the environment


Tacobots at Sprouts

We also visited a local grocery store, Sprouts. The  manager, Mr. Guillermo, said that,”Your idea is awesome and this is a serious problem  and  you should keep going because you are our future and if you keep going this problem will be solved.”


We also talked to Morgan from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in Monterey. She really liked our idea and she said, “I’m really impressed by your idea,  I will still spread the word.”


We setup a camp at our library  and we discussed the idea with a lot of people. One person in particular,  a person from a high school environmental club, really  liked our idea and he said, “I am impressed to see that you thought of this at your age.”

How It’s Made !

The recipe to make is quite easy.

Making the prototype 


  • 1 cup of water
  • 42 g Gelatin
  • 0.5 oz of glycerin
  • 1 drop of food color ( to make it look good) 

How to make it.

  • Boil one cup of water, put 42g Gelatin inside the water and stir until Gelatin dissolved.
  • Add .5 oz of glycerin and one drop of food color. 
  • Stir the liquid before turning off the fire.
  • Pour the liquid to a container and keep it overnight inside the refrigerator
  • Cut the shape ( it is quite flexible at this point) till it sets. After it sets, it becomes quite strong.
  • Allow to dry. We used a dehydrator at low temperature.

This recipe makes one six pack ring.

Industrial manufacturing would be done in a similar manner.  The raw materials are cheap and readily available.

About Us


Tacobots is a First Lego League team from Fremont, CA coached by Sharad Ramachandran and Ambika Mago. The team was formed in the summer of 2015.

Story behind the name

Founding team members consisted of friends and siblings from 4th grade to 6th grade from MSJE. Each team member brought in their unique abilities adding to make an awesome team. They together added different flavors to the team, just like a taco is made that’s why they named ourselves TACOBOTS!

This year new members joined the team as the older teammates moved to FTC. they continue to add to the flavor of the team.

The team has worked hard for last few months on this year challenge “Animal Allies” During this time the team members learned to work as a team to accomplish something bigger than any single person can achieve.

For more info about us visit:

Tacobots at the USS Hornet