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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Caterpillar May Lead To a 'Plastic Pollution' Solution (bbc.com)

Researchers at Cambridge University have discovered that the larvae of the moth, which eats wax in bee hives, can also degrade plastic.

 Experiments show the insect can break down the chemical bonds of plastic in a similar way to digesting beeswax. 

The plastic is used to make shopping bags and food packaging, among other things, but it can take hundreds of years to decompose completely. 

However, caterpillars of the moth (Galleria mellonella) can make holes in a plastic bag in under an hour. 

They think microbes in the caterpillar -- as well as the insect itself -- might play a role in breaking down plastic.

 If the chemical process can be identified, it could lead to a solution to managing plastic waste in the environment.

Actually this problem of plastic breakdown was solved a long time ago. Researchers have discovered that if cornstarch is added to plastic it facilitates the ability of microbes to eat and break down the plastic in landfills.

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