Nature is full of surprises, and totally marvellous at the same time. It's always great when something new gets discovered that simply seems to fit. It was one of those times recently at Cambridge University when scientists Paolo Bombelli and Chris Howe discovered that a species of wax worm likes to eat plastic.
Pollution caused by plastic refuge is a global problem, causing hazardous situations across the entire ecosystem. From large scale objects to tiny particles, the effects on wildlife can be fatal. Because plastic doesn't naturally degrade, we have all become used to the common sight of various objects which simply linger where they are left or deposited.
It has its uses, the hard wearing and water resistant qualities of plastic really come in handy, we use it for all sorts of things and some of those actually help save lives. Think of all the medical equipment that relies on those very properties to contain and deliver drugs and machinery. No, plastic isn't the stuff of the devil but it is a tricky substance to dispose of.
There are ways of recycling some plastics, and safely disposing of the rest, but its thought that only around a quarter of all plastic manufactured ends up in the correct disposal facility. The rest is left to not rot somewhere where it really shouldn't be. An estimated 300 million tonnes of the stuff are made each year, so that's an awful lot of waste.
So the fact that nature seems to found a way of disposing of it, although rather tiny, gives us another ray of hope. All is not lost, I am sure we can put the little things to work somehow, or find some clever chemical process that we can replicate on larger scales. You can read the scientific write up here.
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Rowan Blair Colver for Alternative Fruit
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