How Worms Turn Styrofoam Into Usable Compost

There is an abundance of excess Styrofoam on the planet, but that might be about to change, thanks to mealworms.

Back in 2015, researchers at Stanford University discovered that mealworms could digest about a pill’s worth of Styrofoam per day, and that their droppings were potentially usable organic matter.

More recent studies concluded that mealworms don’t accumulate Styrofoam’s toxic chemicals in their bodies, so they can be used as animal feed and their droppings could be used as plant fertilizer.

Some people, like the farmers at Living Earth Systems, have already started testing out using the droppings as fertilizer. They experimented with growing three tomato plants in soil that contains high grade conventional compost and three tomato plants in soil that contains mealworm-digested compost, and early results were promising, showing little difference between plants at the early stages (see above image).

Of course, the best alternative to Styrofoam is a naturally compostable alternative. But for breaking down the Styrofoam that already exists, mealworm farms or composting facilities are a viable solution!

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