Could a caterpillar help solve the world’s plastic bag problem?

The global plastic bag crisis could be solved by a waxworm (Galleria mellonella) capable of eating through the material at “uniquely high speeds”.

Researchers have described the tiny caterpillar’s ability to break down even the toughest plastics as “extremely exciting” and said the discovery could offer an environmentally friendly solution on an industrial scale.

Around a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year, of which a huge number find their way into the oceans or are discarded into landfill.

Galleria mellonella eats plastic bag.jpg

The waxworm, commonly found living in bee hives or harvested as fishing bait, proved it could eat its way through polyethylene, which is notoriously hard to break down, more than 1400 times faster than other organisms.

Scientists believe the worm has enzymes in its saliva or gut that attack plastic’s chemical bonds, in the same way they digest the wax found in hives.

Learn more here, here or here.

Advertisements

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: