Stanford University scientists have discovered that the lowly mealworm may be the key to solving the world’s plastic waste problem. The mealworm can thrive on a diet consisting solely of styrofoam. The bacteria in the worm’s gut enables the plastic to be converted to 50% carbon dioxide and 50% non-toxic waste. The implications for this bacterial break down are opening doors to solving the world’s plastic waste problem.
The worms seem to suffer no ill effects from their unusual diet, as compared to the worm control group which ate a more typical bran diet. Whether the solution to degrading the plastic will involve worms, or the bacteria that the worms support has yet to be announced. However, with millions of tons of plastic waste thrown away every year, the world will be watching this new discovery.