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Recycling insects: 'Superworms' can live on Styrofoam

Recycling insects: ‘Superworms’ can live on Styrofoam

Australian scientists have discovered that black beetle larvae can be used to recycle plastic. Insects can feed exclusively on Styrofoam and digest plastic. Researchers now want to find ways to use the worms on a large scale.

The black beetle is found mainly in Central and South America. Animals are commonly used by humans primarily as animal feed and as edible insects, and in the latter context they are often referred to as “superworms”.
Super heaters can live on styrofoam and therefore should help with recycling

Researchers from the University of Queensland also published in one of them Paper in the Journal of Microbial Genomics Report, they conducted extensive experiments on worms. Some of the larvae were fed bran, while the second group was fed exclusively Styrofoam and the third group had to starve.

Styrofoam doesn’t do worms much, but…

While the insects of the Styrofoam group were not as healthy as the bran larvae, they were fully capable of surviving, gaining weight and completing their life cycle by eating the plastic. So they can digest Styrofoam, even if it’s not quite good for them. It is therefore theoretically possible to keep large numbers of larvae in an industrial setting and use them for recycling tasks. However, researchers now have a different goal. They want to isolate the enzymes that the larvae use to digest Styrofoam for future use in recycling plastic waste.

The material, which is already known as polystyrene, is used all over the world to perform various tasks and is widespread. Easier recycling with the help of the superworm enzyme could, in theory at least, reduce the proportion of newly produced plastics in favor of recycled ones.

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See also:

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University of Queensland