Natural Plastic Decomposition




saliva get rid of breakthrough
detail research break/broke/broken
larvae type (2) break down
wax potential tough/tougher/toughest
worm sense (3) environmental
plastic humble exposure
crisis provide revelation
wriggle discover see/saw/seen
drool wide (2) polyethylene
use through find/found/found
oxidize enzyme extremely
crucial carry out according to
useful solution currently
feasible interact weather (2)
create material produce (2)
pollen mean (3) cheap/cheaper/cheapest
rid effective particularly
plaster durable packaging
specific degrade throw/threw/thrown
facility weapon pollution
tackle waste (2) big/bigger/biggst
pour concept small/smaller/smallest
tricky enzyme get rid of
pest beeswax reputation
pollen degrade considered
control imagine feed/fed/fed







Now to a potential breakthrough in getting rid of plastic in the environment. Researchers in Spain have found that saliva from the larvae of wax worms can break down some of the toughest types of plastic. Tom Brader has the details.

Plastic pollution is one of the great environmental crises of our time. But could the humble worm potentially provide a solution? This specific worm you can see wriggling away is the wax worm, and Spanish researchers say they’ve discovered chemicals in the wax worm’s drool which can break down polyethylene, one of the most widely used plastics in the world.

“Now we found that worms can do that through their saliva, and in the saliva, there are two enzymes that can actually oxidize and then degrade polyethylene,” according to the scientists who carried out the research. Just one hour’s exposure to the saliva can break down the plastic as effectively as years of weathering, and that could be crucial.

Polyethylene is an extremely useful but durable material. First created in 1933, it’s cheap to produce and doesn’t interact with food, which means it can be particularly useful for things like food packaging. But it can also be very hard to get rid of.

“The original concept about revelation into the environment, you throw the plastic bags and then it degrades there, but I don’t think it’s feasible, it will make much sense.

So, in a controlled environment, waste management facility, bigger, smaller, whatever it is you can imagine, clearly, we have to collect the plaster, then you can pour liters of a solution of these enzymes in there.”

Wax worms currently have a tricky reputation. They’re actually considered pests by beekeepers as they feed on beeswax, pollen, and honey. But if they prove a useful weapon for tackling our plastic problems, then we might have to rethink their reputation.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *



Worm. Organic chemists have synthesize an enzyme than can biodegrade plastic. True or false?

Larvae, Caterpillar. Is smoke and filthy air the only type of pollution on the planet?

Butterfly, Moth. Scientists have observed that earthworms from gardens can decompose polyethylene. Is this right or wrong?

Ant, Termite. Is it the gastric acids in the wax worms’ stomach that can break down polyethylene?

Grasshopper. Was polyethylene discovered in 2003? Does it readily mix with food and other material?

Fly, Mosquito. What does the scientist envisage?

Beetle. Everyone loves the waxworm. Is this correct or incorrect?
Bee, Honeybee. Is plastic a big part of everyday life?

Hornet, Wasp. Do you see a lot of plastic litter and pollution?

Spider, Tarantula. Have you noticed changes over the years?

Fleas, Ticks, Mites. What might happen in the future?

Scorpion, Centipede. What could or should people do?

Comments are closed.