Researchers from Stanford and China have discovered that mealworms can subsist solely on a diet of Styrofoam and other forms of polystyrene and excrete biodegraded material that could be used as soil.
The worms, the larvae form of a common beetle, were fed pellets of the plastic for a month and remained as healthy as worms on normal diets, lead researcher Wei-Min Wu said. The worms also produced carbon gas, but no more than when digesting natural materials, the researcher said.
Good news for recyclers: The worms can biodegrade plastic in 24 hours, versus the 100 years or so it would take in a landfill.
Hope the worms are hungry: Americans throw out 33 million tons of plastic annually.
And if you’re hungry: Mealworms are a delicacy in many Asian cuisines.