Wax Worms: A Solution to Our Plastic Waste?

Plastic waste is especially rough to breakdown because of the polyethylene-based compounds used to make up a variety of plastics that is very tough. Current industrial methods to breakdown polyethylene plastics require toxic corrosive chemicals and take a long time to breakdown. Once in a landfill, polyethylene plastic shopping bags do not break down for a really long time. Some researchers estimate bags and other polyethylene packaging could take between 100 and 400 years to naturally degrade. Now, wax worms offer perhaps a natural solution to breaking down our plastic waste.

ESG May Pic

Wax worms are medium-white caterpillars with black-tipped feet and small, black or brown heads. They are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths. In the wild, they live as nest parasites in bee colonies and eat cocoons, pollen and shed skins of bees, and chew through beeswax, thus the name. They were found to be able to feed on plastic, much like other scientific discoveries in the past, by complete accident as Scientist Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain first noticed the Wax Worms’ plastic-eating skills while she was cleaning up a wax worm infestation in one of the beehives she keeps at home. She had placed them in a plastic bag when she came back and saw that they’d escaped by chewing their way out of the bag, and fast.

Scientists then conducted research to see if they were truly digesting the polyethylene and how much they could consume. Bertocchini and her colleagues found that 100 wax worms were able to chew through a polyethylene shopping bag in around 40 minutes. After 12 hours, the bag was significantly shredded. While other items such as fungi and bacteria have been found to also be able to breakdown polyethylene plastics, Wax Worms have been found to do so at a much faster rate and offers us a new environmentally-friendly option of processing our plastic waste.

By Efrain Esparza, ESG Writer


Meet Jerry, the DIT Internet Server

Recycling efforts have skyrocketed and new strategies on what can be recycled and how to best recycle those items have emerged. The conventional idea of recycling is to throw a plastic bottle or an aluminum can into a blue bin that gets hauled away once a week. As the recycling practice grows, we are finding more materials we can recycle by means of more advanced technology

Although efforts have increased, one of the considerably most harmful groups of materials is still not being treated as a priority. Electronics are not often recycled, and these are one of the most detrimental pieces to our environment. When computers are made, pieces and parts that contain plastic and heavy metals that contain toxins are used.

When these pieces and parts are thrown into the trash instead of being recycled, those toxins leak into the ground, which causes a myriad of problems. Toxins contaminate groundwater, which can cause heath issues.


Jerry Do-It-Together (DIT) is a project that was started in Paris to try and avoid the repercussions of throwing electronics away instead of recycling them. A collaboration stemming from Hedera Technology and ENSCI, Jerry DIT strives to promote making internet servers out of easy-to-find parts as well as previously- used parts. The basic Jerry design can accomplish simple tasks like sending an SMS message, storing data and browsing. Options are also available to add a WI-FI component and a hard drive.

The Jerry DIT website includes manuals on how to make Jerry and a how-to video showing the process. Current hotspots include the United States, France and Africa. To find out more on how you can build your own Jerry, visit the website here.

By Kimberly Dallmann, ESG Writer

Watly Will Be Next?

Watly Will Be Next?

It is reported that in sub-Saharan Africa, roughly 39 percent of the population does not have access to clean water. Moreover, almost 600 million people live without electricity. Can you imagine life without clean water or electricity?

Watly, a Spanish-Italian start-up company, created what is called, “The Watly Machine.” This device can treat water, generate energy and provide internet access. The first prototype of The Watly was tested in Ghana, and the next set of machines will be distributed all over Africa, beginning with Nigeria and Sudan.

The Watly has three major service components: electricity, water treatment and Wi-Fi. Solar panels are what make these processes possible, converting solar energy into electricity. The water treatment component is a two-step process. First, water is passed through a graphene-based filter. According to scientists, graphene is hydrophobic. This means it repels water, but when it is perforated with small holes, it allows water to pass through, filtering contaminants. After it flows through graphene filters, the water is boiled and distilled. As for Wi-Fi, the solar-generated energy allows for anyone to have access within an 800-meter radius. The Watly also includes a charging station.

With rural, sub-Saharan Africa as the pilot region, some believe The Watly might have the ability to affect other countries.

By Kimberly Dallmann, ESG Writer

Energy Bill Rocks NRDC

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) are coming together to work out issues regarding a broad energy efficiency bill put out by the U.S. Senate, according to NRDC blogger, Kit Kennedy. This energy bill seeks to save money and decrease energy waste. While it could be beneficial, the NRDC thinks it could further damage the environment.

Since 1970, the NRDC has been committed to ensuring that all people have equal rights to water, air, and the wild. For now, the NRDC does not oppose the bill but cannot fully support it until improvements are made. The NRDC and NAM will work together to eliminate the anti-environmental practices illustrated in the bill.


Marc Boom, NRDC blogger, notes that one part of the bill continues research that requires a harmful technique in order to extract methane hydrates. Another part completely dismisses a study that compiles data to determine carbon emissions from forest biomass.

With plans to expand clean energy and increase funding for renewable energy, this is the first energy bill passed in nearly a decade. The NRDC and NAM will strategize and come to an agreement on how energy can be saved without further damaging the environment.

By Kimberly Dallmann, ESG Writer