Plastic has contributed significantly to the detriment of the environment — 6.4 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year, harming fish and other marine life. Plastic also gathered in landfills around the world, and these non-biodegradable materials pose a huge problem for the environment.
However, there’s new research that shows the tiny mealworm might just be the solution to the global plastic problem. Scientists at Stanford have discovered that the humble mealworm can live on a diet of Styrofoam and other polystyrene.
This finding is a breakthrough, as polystyrene was previously thought to be non-biodegradable! Researchers have also previously shown that waxworms can biodegrade the plastics used in filmy products such as trash bags.
According to two studies co-authored by Wei-Min Wu, a senior research engineer at Stanford, not only do the worms eat and survive on a Styrofoam diet, but microorganisms in the worms’ guts biodegrade the plastic during the digestion process.