Plastic-eating organisms

MILK MaterialLab Mehlwürmer Frauenhofer Institut
MILK MaterialLab Mehlwürmer Frauenhofer Institut

Styrofoam decomposing mealworms

While mealworms normally feed on wheat bran, biologists at Stanford University and Peking University have given them polystyrene – a form of plastic foam – instead. Mostly, this material is used for polystyrene packaging, yogurt pots or cable insulation. In a test trial, the worms ate the material completely – about 40 mg per worm. To decompose a yogurt cup in this way would take many worms and some time. But the result is worthwhile. This is because the yield of CO2 and excrement is absolutely non-toxic, biodegradable in the process and, moreover, can be used as biomass. During the one-month test series, the (invertebrate) animal welfare is maintained despite the harmful plasticizers and stabilizers. According to this, their intestinal bacteria are able to digest plastic without any problems. This provides further material to gain scientific knowledge about isolated, bacterial waste utilization.

#positivechange #environmentalfriendly #doinggood #impact #sustainability #organic #plastikfree

Product Name: Styrofoam decomposing mealworms
Manufacturer: Frauenhofer Institute

Project status: Concept // Prototype // Ready for market // Ready for series production

Source: Peters, Sascha; Drewes, Diana: Materials in Progress. Innovations for Designers and Architects, Basel 2019, p. 35.
Image source: Frauenhofer Institute