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Worms Can End The Global Plastic Pollution Problem Once And For All

Updated on February 1, 2016

Worms – they are gross, absolutely repulsive and the least favorite creature to roam the earth. That being said, these little wranglers might just have the key to solving our biggest problem till date. Yes, meal worms can end the plastic pollution problem once and for all, one piece of plastic at a time.

Current Status of Plastic Pollution

Plastic is ending up in landfills, in the oceans and the soil. The scale of damage is quite large and it is getting harder to find a viable solution for overcoming the global plastic pollution problem. Plastic isn’t biodegradable. The more you waste plastic, the more harm you are causing to the environment. It has to stop right now.

Although people may find it difficult to do away with plastic completely, it is not impossible. Just try to spend one day without plastic and gradually you will be able to push this plastic-free period beyond 24 hours. Don’t expect the changes to come instantly because years of continuous usage has somehow made us dependent on plastic. So it is obvious that it will take time to get detached from it.

Mealworms are the Key to Fighting Plastic Pollution Globally

Stanford University researchers say styrofoam-eating mealworms could be a major game-changer in the fight against plastic pollution. This is because the worms feast on plastic and turn it into carbon dioxide and harmless organic waste. Now that is something which no recycling process available today or in the near future can achieve.

A collaborative study between Stanford University and Chinese researchers found that 100 of these mealworms, which are essentially baby beetles, could consume almost 40 milligrams of Styrofoam per day. This may not be a lot of plastic, but it is definitely a start. At least we know that plastic can be converted into harmless organic waste.

Although there are several “plastic-eating” bugs out there, this is probably the first time when scientists have confirmed that the waste produced after digesting plastic is organic and completely harmless. Plus, the worms get to enjoy a full meal and save the world at the same time. Captain Planet would be so proud of these creatures!

Wei-Min Wu, a senior research engineer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, discovered the larvae can live on polystyrene. This was the first sign that plastic could be disposed and processed safely with the use of mealworms. The details of the study can be found in Environmental Science and Technology where the research has been published.

Wei said, “Our findings have opened a new door to solve the global plastic pollution problem.” This is a major breakthrough and the exact implications and scale of the findings are yet to be seen. However, it has provided concrete evidence to show that global plastic pollution can be solved.

Before you give the entire credit to mealworms, know that it is the bacteria in the intestines of these mealworms which degrade the plastic and convert it into harmless organic waste. Maybe getting the worms to process the plastic was the first step towards solving plastic pollution. It could be possible that the bacteria itself is used to directly process the plastic without having to use worms as the media. This is just one of the possible outcomes we may see in the time to come.

What People Are Saying About Plastic Eating Worms

How Can You Help To Reduce Plastic Pollution

Don’t expect mealworms to do all the work. Just because they are one solution to the growing plastic problem, you don’t have to be casual about using plastic. Stop using plastic as much as possible so that more waste is not produced. This is the best way you can help create a plastic-free world.

Get a reusable shopping bag for yourself so you don’t have to buy a plastic bag every time you go shopping. These bags come in stylish designs and they are easy to carry around. So there is absolutely no excuse for using a plastic bag again. Check out this amazing 5-star rated reusable shopping bag by CarryWell. It is the perfect addition to your shopping trips.


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