Combat Toxic Plastic Pollution With Caterpillars

Target: Robert Kavlock, Office of Research and Development at the EPA

Goal: Reduce harmful plastic waste by feeding plastic to wax worm caterpillars.

The wax worm is usually used for animal feed and fishing bait, but there’s recently been a scientific development that could lead to their use in the recycling industry. It’s been found that these caterpillars are able to digest plastics previously believed to be completely non-biodegradable. Polyethylene is a synthetic polymer used in plastic bags and other packaging, and the worms have a special enzyme in their digestive systems allowing for breakdown of it.

Wax worms are already commercially bred, so it’s not as if they’re hard to find. If we used them to dispose of plastics naturally, they would be saved from their other commercial uses, all of which are a death sentence. The worms would be kept alive and well fed, helping them in addition to them helping the environment, and then the wax moths could be released into the wild or kept for breeding purposes. Please sign this petition to conduct further research with the aim of one day destroying all polyethylene instead of allowing it to litter our oceans, forests, and landfills.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Kavlock,

More than a trillion plastic bags are used every year. Right now, we have no way of permanently disposing of them and they’re not biodegradable in a traditional sense. Scientists made an accidental discovery recently that wax worms will eat them, and that the enzymes in their digestive systems break down the plastic. They also eat beeswax, and the same mechanisms are thought to be at work for both processes. The worm must break down very strong carbon bonds to digest either substance. This is a huge discovery with far-reaching implications. If one day we could break down all plastic bags, we could save the thousands of animals that die every single year from ingesting them.

The wax worm is already widely bred for many commercial uses, but most of them end in the death of this animal. Using them to break down plastics would be a relationship that would benefit both parties, the humans and wax worms alike. They would be provided with care and then set free, while we would be destroying a huge amount of waste and helping the environment and all living creatures. We ask that you take action to encourage research on this impressive discovery and its implications.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sam Droege

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3 Comments

  1. Let’s let nature help us!!!

  2. Sound like a great idea, however, will the plastic molecules not damage birds and other wild life that will fed on the moths when released?
    For how many years has this study been conducted?

  3. Lisa Zarafonetis Lisa Zarafonetis says:

    Signed & Shared

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