Worms that can eat plastic could save us from destroying the planet.

You tell me what’s more hideous: A Styrofoam cup laying on the ground…

Photo by jnyemb/ Flickr

…or a stilt of creepy, pulsating mealworms?

Photo by OakleyOriginals/ Flickr

Wait! Before you react, what if it was more than time one piece of Styrofoam like 33 million tons of it ?

And what if it wasn’t time cups, but Styrofoam packaging, water bottles, and all different kinds of dumped plastic?

And what if it wasn’t strewn in all the regions of the grass, but instead dropped into one massive pit? Or worse, what if a assortment of “its just” swimming into the sea, waiting to be swallowed up by some forlorn ocean man?

When you kept it like that, the answer seems pretty obvious .

Yuck. Photo by Pascal Pochard Casabianca/ AFP/ Getty Images.

But here’s something new and surprising: Those wiggly little mealworms might just be the key to opposing plastic contamination all over the world.

Likenes by Kitty Curran/ Upworthy.

Go for us to fess up: We, as a genus, are not very good at recycling.

In the United States alone, each year we throw away about 33 million tons of plastic garbage( including Styrofoam, which is basically fluffy plastic ), with less than 10% of it being recycled properly.

Now, it’s not all our defect. Modern recycling proficiencies have come a long way, but they aren’t excellent. Harmonizing to Popular Machinists, cloths like the ones used to start soda bottles can only be recycled( or “downcycled” into lesser produces) so many times.

That entails, one way or another, most of it will end up in a landfill eventually, where it could take centuries to biodegrade.

But it looks like we might be onto an amazing, if somewhat unappetizing, solution.

Researchers simply discovered that mealworms can eat nothing but Styrofoam, move it into biodegradable louse poo, and get all the nutrition they need.

This is huge.

A collaborative analyze between Stanford University and Chinese researchers found that 100 of these mealworms, which are essentially baby beetles, could eat approximately 40 milligrams of Styrofoam per day. Now, that’s not a great deal( it takes 453,592 milligrams to equal one pound ), but the implications are much, much larger.

There are plenty of flaws out there that gobble plastic, but this is the first time researchers have confirmed that what comes out the, er, other extremity is, in fact, naturally occurring. And even better? Eating the stuff doesn’t harm the snakes in the least.

Epitome by Kitty Curran/ Upworthy.

In other paroles, something magical is going on inside these mealworms that causes them curve hazardous plastic into harmless organic litter.

Investigated the chemical medium inside the mealworms’ intestine that constructs this possible might lead to better recycling skills.

When I first read about this, I realized government officials unleashing accumulations of mealworms on our landfills for an epic buffet, but unfortunately, that doesn’t seem super probable recollect, they dine certainly, really slowly.

But what if we could emulate the mechanisms inside their guts that break down the plastic? If we were able recreate that environ on a larger scale, we wouldn’t are now working so hard defrosting down bottles and passing them back into brand-new bottles.

We could just transform them into the equivalent of louse poo, which health researchers say can serve as grime and is totally safe for the Earth .

But you know what? Nothing of this will matter if we don’t get better at sorting our trash and recycling the things that ought to be recycled.

I never reputed I’d say this, but if we work together with the mealworms, we really can make a difference.

Read more: http :// www.upworthy.com /~ ATAGEND

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