TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

Plastic-munching superworms offer hope for recycling

Plastic-munching superworms offer hope for recycling

A species of insect larvae with a taste for plastic could help revolutionize recycling, researchers say.
Australian scientists have found the Zophobas morio — commonly known as a superworm — can survive on a diet of polystyrene.

They believe the beetle larvae digest the plastic through a gut enzyme.

That could be significant for advancements in recycling, says one of the study's authors.

"Superworms are like mini recycling plants, shredding the polystyrene with their mouths and then feeding it to the bacteria in their gut," Dr Chris Rinke said.

The University of Queensland team fed three groups of superworms different diets over three weeks. The batch that ate polystyrene even put on weight.

The team found several enzymes in the superworm's gut have the ability to degrade polystyrene and styrene. Both are common in takeaway containers and other items such as insulation and car parts.

But the research is unlikely to lead to massive worm farms that double as recycling plants.

Instead, they hope to identify which enzyme is the most effective so it can be reproduced at scale for recycling.

Plastic would then be mechanically shredded, before being treated with the enzyme, said the research published in Microbial Genomics.

"The breakdown products from this reaction can then be used by other microbes to create high-value compounds such as bioplastics," Dr Rinke said.

Research has previously shown some types of beetle larvae can consume polystyrene.

But this study takes it a step further, says Australian National University researcher Colin Jackson - who wasn't involved with the study.

"This study goes a long way towards understanding how the bacteria in [the superworms'] gut do this at the molecular level," Professor Jackson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"[That's] important for translation and use of this type of approach in recycling."

Internationally, other researchers have had success in using bacteria and fungi to break down plastics.

But some question whether such techniques will ever be commercially viable.

"The scale-up and translation of research like this is always a challenge, which is magnified in the area of plastics by the incredible scale of the problem and the economics in terms of how cheap new plastic is to produce," Professor Jackson said.
Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
0:00
0:00
Close
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×