The world’s plastic problem could be solved with help from the humble worm.
The amount of plastic that makes it’s way into the earth’s eco-systems each year is staggering.
While recycling programs have taken off in recent years with all of us becoming more conscious of our carbon footprint, the small difference each of us makes in recycling our own household waste is just a drop in the ocean.
Supermarkets have been criticized recently for not doing enough to reduce the amount of plastic that is bought. If supermarkets stocked less products with excessive plastic packaging, there simply wouldn’t be the same numbers making through into the environment, the seas in general.
Polystyrene and Styrofoam are two of the worst offenders.
Test have shown that it can take thousands of years to biodegrade, and when deposited in the oceans in can wreak havoc with the eco-systems.
Thankfully there is a solution to this problem, a new idea discovered by the scientists at Stanford University. In collaboration with Chinese scientists they have found that mealworms can happily feed on Styrofoam.
The worms get enough nutrition they need from the Styrofoam while naturally turning it into fertilizing waste. The worms get fed and the environment benefits from the nourishing waste.
It was discovered that 100 mealworms can eat around 40g of Styrofoam per day, and while this may seem like a small amount, the numbers can easily be increased so we could have millions of meal worms munching their way through discarded plastics at a speedy rate.
The implications for this are huge, it is the first time we have seen man-made plastics being conquered by nature in a way that benefits both sides.
All this time the great benefits the mealworm for the environment has been overlooked, this could just be the start of humans working more closely with the animal world to help solve big environmental issues.