Caterpillar could help tackle plastic pollution

Scientists have identified a caterpillar that could help tackle plastic pollution by munching on plastic bags.

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A team of researchers from Cambridge University  have discovered that the larvae of the moth, able to eat wax in bee hives, can also degrade plastic.

According to the BBC,  experiments involving the caterpillars of the moth (Galleria mellonella) showed that the larvae can break down plastic’s chemical bonds in the same way they digest beewax.

“The caterpillar will be the starting point,” said Dr Paolo Bombelli, a biochemist from the researchers team, to the BBC. “We need to understand the details under which this process operates. We hope to provide the technical solution for minimising the problem of plastic waste.”

The discovery hosts some potential to find out more about the chemical secrets behind the natural degradation of plastic. Microbes present in the caterpillar could play an important role in the process.

“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,” said Dr Federica Bertocchini of the Spanish National Research Council.

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