Plastic production has been increasing over the past decades and is estimated to reach over one billion tons per year in 2050. However, recycling rates have remained low globally and nationally.

UQ-led research has found that the darkling beetle, commonly known as superworms, can eat through polystyrene, thanks to bacterial enzymes in their gut. Superworms fed a diet of just polystyrene not only survived, but even had marginal weight gains. This suggests the worms can derive energy from the plastic, most likely with the help of their gut microbes.

At this month's BrisScience, UQ's Dr Christian Rinke will explore how this research could lead to large-scale biological recycling, through enzymatic or microbial degradation, in recycling plants around the globe.

We'll be serving up delicious light refreshments and drinks after the presentation. 

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