You may have read on social media recently about a type of Mealworm that can survive on a diet made up of just polystyrene.
If not, we are going to explain a little more, and how this could be a huge breakthrough for recycling plastic…
Mealworms are the larvae of the Darkling Beetle (see their change below) and are capable of eating about 0.35mg of polystyrene per day. This is a little more than nothing. 1500 meal worms can eat about the equivalent (in weight) of a tic tac, each day.
According to researchers, the waste produced by the Mealworms is not at all toxic, and is just as fertile as waste produced by Mealworms with a regular diet. In fact, the Mealworms appear equally as healthy, which is a significant reason that researchers believe Mealworms are useful for recycling plastic.
Your thought may be that if a product is not made from the plastic, then how are the Mealworms recycling plastic? Think of things on a mass scale. If scientists can breed a million Mealworms, let’s use that as a basis.
A polystyrene cup weighs 1.5g.
A Mealworm can eat 0.35mg a day.
This equates to around 4300 Mealworms to eat one paper cup in a day.
This means 1 million Mealworms could eat about 230 cups per day.
There are about 9000 Mealworms in a kilogram
1 million Mealworms would weigh 111kgs.
It wouldn’t produce much fertilizer, but a small amount is preferable to non-recyclable contaminated post-consumer food waste polystyrene.
So, where does this leave us?
It appears like quite a huge task to envision a world of Mealworm farms for eating and recycling polystyrene, which is why that’s not the task at hand. What scientists will do with this new information is work out how exactly the Mealworm stomach works and if the bacterias can be replicated
Firstly though, scientists have to work their way up the Mealworm food chain to see how the animals that eat Mealworms are affected by their food. For now though, it’s important that the plastic eating Mealworms are tested heavily before being integrated into the ecosystem.
What do you think about these Mealworms? Tweet us @PlasticExpertUK