Insects like Galleria mellonella, Corcyra cephalonica have potential of fast and eco-friendly plastic decomposers. This result in ethylene glycol production which use in gas purification. After 4 to 7 months exposure to the bacterium Nocardia asteroides, slow polyethylene biodegradation is visible for plastic decomposition.
Plastics are the synthetic polymers and are by-product from fossil oil. About 92 percent of total plastic production consists of polyethylene and polypropylene. Tremendous consumption of plastic is producing large amounts of plastic waste, which is arising global environmental concern.
Polyethylene is mainly utilizing in packaging industry. Approximately 40 percent of total demand for plastic products is met by polyethylene with over a trillion plastic bags consumption every year (www.economist.com/news).
Although polyethylene is not capable to biodegradation. But since it is the most frequently using packaging material, scientists are making efforts to make it biodegradable.
Solid-phase extraction biodegradation is a slow process under given suitable conditions. For example modest biodegradation of polyethylene is observing after nitric acid treatment and incubation for 3 months in a liquid culture of the fungus Penicillium simplicissimum.
Insects like Galleria mellonella, Corcyra cephalonica have potential of fast and eco-friendly plastic decomposers resulting in ethylene glycol production which use in gas purification. Slow polyethylene biodegradation was also recorded after 4 to 7 months exposure to the bacterium Nocardia asteroides.
Another type of plastic is the Polystyrene, which is a common petroleum-based plastic with Styrofoam as a major product. It has an annual global production of approximately 21 million tons in 2013 (www.platicseurope.org).
Although styrene monomers and oligomers are susceptible to biodegradation. Polystyrene is non-biodegradable as a result of its high molecular weight and highly stable structure.
Biodegradation of plastics is a quite tough, time and price consuming task. Due to this, environmental pollution is increasing day by day.
Traditionally, plastic wastes are being manage by using chemicals like nitric acid and other biological means which are slow and costly too. This study on role of insects who have potential of plastic decomposition and converting it into ethylene glycol will help in eco-friendly management of plastic wastes.
Insects are easy to rear and have comparatively fast plastic biodegradation rate than other previously applying tactics. It will save the additional cost of plastic industry, plastic waste management company, strengthen R&D and will improve the health of people by diminishing the environment pollution.
It will open new gates of employment for local society in waste management organizations through training in rearing of G. mellonella, P. interpunctella insects.
This article is jointly written by Habib-ur-Rehman1 , Mansoor-ul-Hasan2, Ehsan Ali1, Qurban Ali3, Saima Mirza1 and Muhammad Yasir4. The authors are from 1Punjab Bioenergy Institute, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan; 2Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan; 3Entomological Research Institute, Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, Faisalabad, Pakistan; 4Directorate General of Pest Warning and Quality Control of Pesticides, Punjab, Pakistan.