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Biodegradation of Different Types of Plastics by Tenebrio molitor Insect

Institute of Agrophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Doświadczalna 4, 20-290 Lublin, Poland
Department of Polymer Chemistry, Institute of Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Chemistry, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Gliniana 33, 20-614 Lublin, Poland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Antonio Pizzi and Beom Soo Kim
Polymers 2021, 13(20), 3508;
Received: 7 July 2021 / Revised: 23 August 2021 / Accepted: 8 October 2021 / Published: 13 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Biodegradation and Polymeric Biomass Valorization)
Looking for new, sustainable ways to utilize plastics is still a very pertinent topic considering the amount of plastics produced in the world. One of the newest and intriguing possibility is the use of insects in biodegradation of plastics, which can be named entomoremediation. The aim of this work was to demonstrate the ability of the insect Tenebrio molitor to biodegrade different, real plastic waste. The types of plastic waste used were: remains of thermal building insulation polystyrene foam (PS), two types of polyurethane (kitchen sponge as PU1 and commercial thermal insulation foam as PU2), and polyethylene foam (PE), which has been used as packaging material. After 58 days, the efficiency of mass reduction for all of the investigated plastics was 46.5%, 41.0%, 53.2%, and 69.7% for PS, PU1, PU2, and PE, respectively (with a dose of 0.0052 g of each plastic per 1 mealworm larvae). Both larvae and imago were active plastic eaters. However, in order to shorten the duration of the experiment and increase the specific consumption rate, the two forms of the insect should not be combined together in one container. View Full-Text
Keywords: mealworm; waste management; entomoremediation; bioremediation mealworm; waste management; entomoremediation; bioremediation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bulak, P.; Proc, K.; Pytlak, A.; Puszka, A.; Gawdzik, B.; Bieganowski, A. Biodegradation of Different Types of Plastics by Tenebrio molitor Insect. Polymers 2021, 13, 3508.

AMA Style

Bulak P, Proc K, Pytlak A, Puszka A, Gawdzik B, Bieganowski A. Biodegradation of Different Types of Plastics by Tenebrio molitor Insect. Polymers. 2021; 13(20):3508.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bulak, Piotr, Kinga Proc, Anna Pytlak, Andrzej Puszka, Barbara Gawdzik, and Andrzej Bieganowski. 2021. "Biodegradation of Different Types of Plastics by Tenebrio molitor Insect" Polymers 13, no. 20: 3508.

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