Styrofoam-eating worm: a solution to plastic pollution

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worms that eat plastic

The world is becoming saturated with so much waste, we need to start making a change now. Contributing to our Earth by doing things the best way possible is the goal of living a Green life. Reducing, Recycling and Reusing may be our daily motto, but sometimes it might not even be enough. Science is working daily to find solutions to help alleviate the heavy burden of dealing with our waste.

For instance, plastic is quite hard to recycle. There are many types that cannot be recycled nor destroyed easily. Styrofoam is one of those. Composed of Polystyrene, a material that is durable and resistant to biodegradation, Styrofoam has always been an enigma to recycle. But a little flour worm might just be the solution! Today we share more about this exciting finding.

recycling tips for the kitchen

Stanford University Study Breakthrough with Mealworms

Every year, tons and tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans. The efforts to find solutions to this big problem are increasing as the numbers increase alarmingly. In the U.S. alone, about a shy 10% of plastic disposed is recycled yearly. Last September, a team of scientists from Stanford University, in alliance with China, published a study in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology, revealing exciting results. According to one of the senior research engineers of Stanford, it’s a new door to solve to the global plastic pollution. Commonly called mealworms, the larvae of darkling beetles have brought hope to the scientific community. The researchers fed Styrofoam to 100 mealworms and the larvae ate between 34-39 milligrams per day. One of the facts that make it a very promising finding is that there is an apparent lack of toxic byproducts from mealworms after ingesting it.

How does it do it?

The digestive systems of mealworms contain a bacteria that is able to biodegrade plastic. This is the first evidence of bacteria degrading plastic in an animal’s gut. They convert 50% of the material into carbon dioxide, as it would normally do with with any food source. The other half is excreted and it seems that without causing harm to the insect. Researchers still need to keep track of the plastic-eating mealworms to detect anomalies and any effect of animals that might eat them.

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Scientific breakthroughs like this shed some light over what sometimes seems a dark future for our Planet. It’s in our best interests for our future generations to take care of our world. Inform yourself on how to do a better job at taking care of your Planet and make a difference today. Read more about the Importance of Recycling in Colorado and how reutilizing and recycling raw material can help change people’s lives