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      Plastic agriculture using worms: Augmenting polystyrene consumption and using frass for plant growth towards a zero-waste circular economy.

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          Abstract

          Polystyrene (PS) is one of the major plastics contributing to environmental pollution with its durability and resistance to biodegradation. Recent research has found mealworms ( Tenebrio molitor) and superworms ( Zophobas morio) to be able to utilize PS as a carbon food source and degrade them without toxic effects. In this study, the effects of food additives on plastic consumption augmentation were studied, with small additions of sucrose and bran found to increase PS consumption. To close the plastic carbon cycle, we also evaluated the use of worm frass for dragon fruit cacti ( Hylocereus undatus) growth and found that superworm frass supported rooting and growth better than mealworm frass and control media over a fortnight. Superworms, apart from being known fish and poultry feed, have been shown to be a suitable natural solution to the PS plastic problem that can support plant growth towards a zero-waste sustainable bioremediation cycle.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          UCL Open: Environment Preprint
          UCL Press
          24 June 2020
          Affiliations
          [1 ] A*STAR
          Article
          10.14324/111.444/000048.v1

          This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

          The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

          Entomology, General environmental science, Life sciences

          Circular economy, Waste, Biodegradation, Mealworm, Superworm, Frass, Polystyrene, rooting, agricultural support, waste management , Environmental science

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