From plastic to silk: Reducing plastic pollution thanks to a moth

  August 27, 2019  >   Breaking news · Curiosity · Events · Flash en · It happened at MFR · Projects · Protagonists

An animal with a wonderful digestive capacity that help fighting plastic pollution

Plastic pollution, as everyone knows, has now become a huge problem for the planet, due to the excessive use that humans have made of this material in recent decades. In addition to reducing our daily consumption, an area on which we are actively working, we also need to find ways to eliminate the existing plastic, and the solution could come from nature itself.

A team of young people from the Istituto Superiore E. Fermi of Mantova in Italy has conceived and developed an idea called ReciclaGame, a process of bioconversion of polyethylene in biodegradable and reusable materials. All thanks to the help of the Galleria mellonella, a greater wax moth capable of digesting polyethylene.

 

The life cycle of the Galleria mellonella moth (photo: eruflex)
The life cycle of the moth (photo: eruflex)

The team of students has created a prospectus for each stage of development of the G. mellonella caterpillar, which is fed with a special feed containing polyethylene. To complete the transformation cycle, the animal produces large quantities of silk filaments, which can also be reused in various fields.

The complete ReciclaGame process (photo: eruflex)
The complete ReciclaGame process (photo: eruflex)

From the animal’s bacterial flora another useful organism, namely, Bacillus subtilis, known for its antimicrobial properties, can also be extracted. 

Finally, the adult moths can be used as biological feed once they have died. Each part of the moth’s life cycle would then lead to the production of something useful and biodegradable, starting from a special compound feed containing a percentage of plastic waste.

Silk filaments (photo: eruflex)
Silk filaments (photo: eruflex)

You can discover the ReciclaGame project, and many other initiatives focused on sustainability, at Maker Faire Rome – the European Edition 2019, the world-famous innovation technology fair that will be held from 18 to 20 October at the Fiera di Roma. Tickets are now on sale, get yours!