Mealworms convert Styrofoam waste into usable soil
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), commonly used insulation in passive shipping systems in the BioPharma Supply Chain, is a concern from an environmental perspective. Some research from Stanford University could offer a means of recycling this material:
An ongoing study by Stanford engineers, in collaboration with researchers in China, shows that common mealworms can safely biodegrade various types of plastic.
Consider the plastic foam cup. Every year, Americans throw away 2.5 billion of them. And yet, that waste is just a fraction of the 33 million tons of plastic Americans discard every year. Less than 10 percent of that total gets recycled, and the remainder presents challenges ranging from water contamination to animal poisoning.
Enter the mighty mealworm. The tiny worm, which is the larvae form of the darkling beetle, can subsist on a diet of Styrofoam and other forms of polystyrene, according to two companion studies co-authored by Wei-Min Wu, a senior research engineer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford. Microorganisms in the worms’ guts biodegrade the plastic in the process – a surprising and hopeful finding.
Source: Stanford University