Our project, named “ReciclaGaMe”, aims to eco-sustainably degrade polyethylene, thus innovating the concept of recycling and disposal of plastic waste through landfills or waste-to-energy plants. The mellonella Galleria moth, also known as wax Tarma Maggiore, has the peculiar ability to degrade polyethylene, the simplest among synthetic polymers. This feature is essential in the degradation process by the larva: polyethylene in fact has considerable similarities with myricin, a key component of beeswax, which is mostly formed by long linear chains of carbon atoms. The digestion process can be seen as the result of two steps: the first is the mechanical crushing of the polymer through the masticatory apparatus, in order to increase the surface exposed. The second step consists in the actual degradation of the plastic material inside the digestive tract of the camola; At the moment it is not yet clear whether the degradation activity takes place because of the presence of particular enzymes within the intestinal flora or whether it is a characteristic of the organism in its complexity. The final result of biodegradation is ethylene glycol, easily manageable from a disposal point of view. The organic residue is used as biomass for biogas production, through fermentative processes.  Applying the principles of the Circular Economy, we have devised a self-sufficient process able to guarantee a good conversion yield of plastic waste without energy consumption waste, making our process efficient and at the same time eco-friendly.

Website