Experts unveil breakthrough in polystyrene breakdown by mealworms

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Chinese experts recently published new discoveries showing that when mealworms are given supplemental nutrition they can break down polystyrene (PS) more quickly.

Yang Jun, professor at Beihang University, and other scholars from Chinese and U.S. universities published their discoveries in Chemosphere, an international peer-reviewed scientific journal, earlier this month.
The new findings show that a mealworm strain from a U.S. source can biodegrade PS, and providing supplemental nutrition for the worms can help increase the PS biodegradation rates.

PS items such as plastic bags and bottles and disposable tableware are hard to break down in most environments, leading to its accumulation as a major contaminant.

Qian Yi, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and professor of the School of Environment of Tsinghua University, said Yang and his team’s discoveries were significant breakthroughs in the environmental science field in recent years. The research could offer solutions to the global plastic pollution problem.

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