New research proves caterpillars might be the solution to plastic pollution

Plastic is one of the top reasons for causing harm to humans and wildlife, ultimately degrading the environment. Plastics, when discarded, have a slow degradation rate- a hundred years to degrade completely. This can have huge impacts on land and water bodies. Despite this, they are the most commonly used shopping and food packaging bags. They can be found in almost every household and shopping stores. About 80 million ton of plastic polyethylene is produced annually around the world.

Researchers at the Cambridge University have conducted experiments which have shown that moth larvae have the ability to break down the chemical bonds in a plastic similarly to digesting beeswax. This larva which eats wax in bee hives can degrade plastic as well, which can be used to control plastic pollution. Caterpillar of the moth or Galleria mollenella have the ability to make holes in plastics in under an hour.

“The caterpillar will be the starting point. We need to understand the details under which this process operates.We hope to provide the technical solution for minimizing the problem of plastic waste.” Dr. Paolo Bombelli, who is a biochemist at the University of Cambridge and one of the researchers on this study, told BBC News.

Dr. Bombelli with his colleague Federica Bertocchini believes that microbes in the caterpillar and the insect might be the reason for the breakdown of the plastic. They intend to speed the process of discovering the chemical mystery behind this degradation.”We are planning to implement this finding into a viable way to get rid of plastic waste, working towards a solution to save our oceans, rivers, and all the environment from the unavoidable consequences of plastic accumulation. However, we should not feel justified

“We are planning to implement this finding into a viable way to get rid of plastic waste, working towards a solution to save our oceans, rivers, and all the environment from the unavoidable consequences of plastic accumulation. However, we should not feel justified to dump polyethylene deliberately in our environment just because we now know how to bio-degrade it.” said Dr Bertocchini.During the research, 92 mg of plastic had been consumed by the caterpillar over a period of 12 hours.

During the research, 92 mg of plastic had been consumed by the caterpillar over a period of 12 hours.

The discovery was made accidentally when the researchers noticed that plastic bags holding wax worms became riddled with holes. The worms not only ingested the plastic but also chemically transformed the polyethylene into ethylene glycol. They believe that this ability is a by- product of the natural habitat of worms.

We hope that this research, which is published in the journal Current Biology, can be successfully used to curb the problem of tremendous over- hoarding of plastics.The discovery has been patented by Dr. Bombelli and Bertocchini.

The discovery has been patented by Dr. Bombelli and Bertocchini.

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