These Caterpillars Could Be The Answer To How We Get Rid Off Plastic Waste In The Future

Larvae to save the day! According to scientists, a plastic-eating species could be the answer to this major environmental problem

Plastic-eating Worms Could Be The Answer To Get Rid Off Plastic Waste

by Debrief Staff |
Published on

You might not feel great about worms, but it looks like one particular breed could hold the answer to disposing of all the plastic waste we produce. Researchers from Cambridge University discovered that the larvae of the moth is able to degrade plastic. The unlikely heroes are known as Galleria mellonella, and can make holes in plastic bags in less than an hour.

To understand why this discovery is so important, we need to remember how severe is the issue with plastic. The hundreds of documentaries dedicated to the topic are not wrong: plastic it’s dangerous. One apparently inoffensive Tesco plastic bag contains toxic chemicals that will be slowly released as it makes contact with the soil. Animals also pay the consequences as they eat them and die, plus the petroleum to create them is a valuable and, unfortunately, finite resource.

Despite how harmful the material is, the production of millions of tonnes of plastic polyethylene is still ongoing and strong. It’s also everywhere: dishware, food, toys and more items which take up to 100 years to degrade.

The researchers believe that the caterpillar and the microbes inside it could provide a solution to minimise the problem of plastic waste. But firstly, the want to discover the secrets of the natural degradation of plastic.

One of the biochemists involved in the study, Dr Paolo Bombelli, said, 'we are planning to implement this finding into a viable way to get rid of plastic waste, working towards a solution to save our oceans, rivers, and all the environment from the unavoidable consequences of plastic accumulation.'

The doctor also reminded the public that the weight of the problem shouldn’t be left only to the worms to solve: 'However, we should not feel justified to dump polyethylene deliberately in our environment just because we now know how to bio-degrade it.'

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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