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Thu Oct 1, 2015, 11:10 AM

Scientists find worms can safely eat the plastic in our garbage

PETER DOCKRILL1 OCT 2015


Garbage is a big problem. Even with so many of us doing our bit to help out with recycling, the amount of unrecyclable and discarded plastics in the US alone comes close to 30 million tonnes annually, thanks to things like disposable coffee cups (2.5 billion of which are thrown away by Americans every year). We’re looking at you, Starbucks.

Now, for the first time, researchers have found detailed evidence that bacteria in an animal’s gut can safely biodegrade plastic and potentially help reduce the environmental impact of plastic in landfill and elsewhere. The animal in question? The humble mealworm – which turns out to be not so humble after all.

Researchers led by Stanford University in US and Beihang University in China found that the mealworm – the larval form of the darkling beetle – can safely subsist on a diet of Styrofoam and other kinds of polystyrene, with bacteria in the worm’s gut biodegrading the plastic as part of its digestive process. The findings are significant because it was previously thought that these substances were non-biodegradable – meaning they ended up in landfill (or worse, our oceans, where they’d accumulate for decades).

“Our findings have opened a new door to solve the global plastic pollution problem,” co-author Wei-Min Wu, a senior research engineer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford, said in a statement.

more

http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-find-worms-can-safely-eat-the-plastic-in-our-garbage

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Reply Scientists find worms can safely eat the plastic in our garbage (Original post)
n2doc Oct 2015 OP
NV Whino Oct 2015 #1
Human101948 Oct 2015 #2
mopinko Oct 2015 #3

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 11:48 AM

1. I can see it now...

In 50 years, "The Attack of the Giant (Plastic) Worm!"

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Response to NV Whino (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 12:24 PM

2. I would be more concerned about what we're going to do with all the resulting beetles...

 

Maybe Mexican fast food restaurants called Las Cucarachas?

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Response to Human101948 (Reply #2)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 01:21 PM

3. animal feed.

the next stage of the research is to make sure any animals that eat these worms are not affected by the plastics.
worms like this make excellent animal feed, better for the environment than meat.

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