For decades the environmental impact of plastics has been a major crisis with no clear solution. Plastics last for thousands of years, and the amount of plastic we make and consume has grown exponentially over the decades. It appears that we may have a solution.
So…the solution to our plastics crisis is….worms? For the past few weeks the internet has been ablaze with reports of wax worms that can break down plastics into organic compounds. No, this isn’t a fake story built out of a little GoDaddy satellite site. This is the real deal.
Pollution of any kind is not acceptable to man. Whether it be water, air, or waste pollution, they are all unhealthy to the environment and cause more harm than good to mankind. This explains why every effort is put in to reduce the level of pollution in the world.
The area of plastic waste pollution seems to have gotten a solution in the form of a Wax Worm. The larvae of this Worm type was initially bred to be used as fish bait before a discovery was made of its love for plastic materials by an amateur beekeeper and scientist, Federica Bertocchini. Here are reasons why Scientists think the Wax Worm may be the solution to plastic waste solution.
1. APPETITE FOR PLASTIC: Following Federica’s chance discovery, researchers investigated the report and found that 100 Wax Worms can devour as much as 92 milligrams of polyethylene. The amazing thing is that this quantity would be devoured in the space of 12 hours. Compare this to another scientific fact that about 200 plastic bags, which is the average a human being uses in one year, would take between 100 to 400 years to degrade in landfill sites. With the huge appetite of the Wax Worm for plastic, it makes good sense to use it effectively.
2. POLYETHYLENE BREAKDOWN: The Wax Worm is able to breakdown plastic through the use of an enzyme which they produce. As a solution to all the plastic waste which fills our landfills, oceans, and waterways, Scientists are researching on how to use the enzymes of the Wax Worm in some type of bacteria and marine organisms to degrade plastic wastes in the wild.
3. ENERGY SOURCE: One major factor which would work in the favor of using Wax Worms to fight against plastic waste pollution is to discover why they consume polyethylene. If it is just a passing thing, then, it would only be of benefit to man now. Another explanation may be that it requires it as a source of its energy. If that be the case, it would work perfectly as a solution to plastic waste pollution.
4. BREED LARGE NUMBER OF THEM: Rather than breed only a few of these Wax Worms for fish bait, emphasis may shift to breeding them in large quantities to be released to the landfills, oceans, and waterways to help degrade plastic wastes lined there. This would go a long way in solving plastic waste pollutions.
This chance discovery by Federica may be the solution to plastic waste pollution. Rather than spending long years waiting for polyethylene to degrade in landfills, this solution is both natural and time saving.