Skip to main content

Mother Nature tackles plastic waste

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany suggest caterpillars could play a role in cutting unwanted plastics.

Their work is based on the knowledge that some animals have an appetite for unusual foodstuff. As an example, the larvae of the Greater Wax moth (Galleria Melonella) can consume polyethylene (PE) and convert it at a ‘remarkable rate’. Researchers report 100 000 larvae eat over five kilograms of plastic in less than a week.

‘This would open up promising possibilities for the disposal and elimination of large quantities of plastic waste,’ Fraunhofer suggests. However, before this unique ability of the caterpillar can be harnessed technologically, it must be proven whether the creature completely digests the PE or merely crushes and excretes it.

The research taking place under Fraunhofer’s RauPE project uses state-of-the-art, high-resolution Raman microscopy and machine learning.

Would you like to share any interesting developments or article ideas with us? Don't hesitate to contact us.

You might find this interesting too

What’s next in the world of sensor-based sorting?
Unilever’s UK refill trial to be expanded

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe now and get a full year for just €169 (normal rate is €225) Subscribe