They consume plastic and are also a source of food, find out here why these larvae could be an excellent environmental alternative
It is not something new that insects are consumed. Around the world, different cultures consume "bugs" such as ants and cockroaches. The innovative aspect of this proposal is that these beetle larvae cannot only be ingested by humans and pets, but also improve environmental conditions.
Leer en español: ¡Las larvas de escarabajo son el futuro!
"Feeding the world without consuming the planet"
Miguel Bonilla, founder and CEO of this initiative called InsectCOL, explains that the consumption of insects is the future, since it is a friendly alternative to the environment. According to him, "breeding and cultivating insects is a more economical and sustainable activity with the environment". Biocultures generate less emissions of greenhouse gases, use less natural resources such as water, require minimal space, and larvae feed on waste.
In fact, according to Bonilla, "InsectCol believes that entomology is a logical response to the challenges that our planet will face in the coming decades and is responsible for obtaining and providing excellent quality products to meet this demand."
In fact, insects are a high source of vitamins and proteins. Insects have 76% digestible protein, 12% carbohydrates, and are a source of calcium. InsectCOL produces chocolates, jams, sauces, stuffed larvae, among other products.
For some, the consumption of insects may seem preposterous and unhealthy. However, a survey conducted by InsectCOL shows that 90% of the population is willing to consume this type of protein. To promote the consumption of larvae, Bonilla and his team created the Worm Challenge, which consists of eating a larva and losing the fear to this type of food.
It should be noted that larvae used to make food are those that consume organic matter. However, the traceability of the consumption of larvae fed with inorganic material will be carried out. According to Bonilla, "the larvae are still alive after consuming plastic" so the consumption of larvae fed with this inorganic matter could be viable.
Many will ask why the consumption of insects is better than the consumption of beef, pork, or chicken. The answer is that the greenhouse gases produced by the larvae are imperceptible. "Like all biological activity CO2 is emitted, but the gases are imperceptible." When compared with those produced by bovines, the gases are minimal, so they become a friendly alternative to the environment.
Not only are they consumed, they also degrade polystyrene
Although the consumption of insects is innovative and a very good environmental strategy against the consumption of meat, these larvae do much more. As mentioned above, these larvae are able to digest polystyrene and with the produced waste, Bonilla produces fertilizer. Surprisingly, these larvae of approximately 1.96 inches consume 0.34 micrograms of polystyrene per day.
The fact that these larvae are able to ingest plastic and degrade polystyrene without any counter-indication is due to "a bacillus that lives in the bowels of these small worms. The bacteria are able to biodegrade the polymer and provide the resulting molecules to the larva so that it continues the cycle, feeding itself, as if it were sugar and expelling CO2 ".
At the end of the process, the intake of polystyrene and other petroleum-based products, the larvae produce fertilizer. In this way, they help solve a problem of untreated waste.
Where did this initiative come from?
Miguel Bonilla is a Colombian Zootechnician with an enterprise that seeks to solve several social and environmental problems. With InesctCOL, Bonilla aims to:
- Create a great bioculture to generate a source of food for animals and the human population
- Degrade high volumes of organic and inorganic waste
- Generate employment for former guerrilla members and people with disabilities
All this with the larva of Zophoba morio, a beetle that Bonilla keeps in a larval state to get more out of its profits.
The main headquarters of InsectCOL is located in Tulua, Colombia. There is the bioculture that has 9 million larvae. In Tulua, InsectCOL has an agreement with the market place to collect 1% of the waste produced and use it as a food source for the larvae, which originally consume wood.
In the capital of the country, Bogotá, Bonilla is conducting research to continue developing his project thanks to an agreement he has with SENA (National Learning Service) in a Tecno Park located in the neighborhood of Chapinero. There, the entrepreneurs have access to machinery and scientific material to continue developing their projects. SENA supports them for free and signs a confidentiality clause to protect the advances of the researchers.
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To advance in the implementation of the different lines of business, Bonilla is associated with other educational and entrepreneurship entities such as the National University of Colombia, Los Andes Universities, Social Lab, among others. With all these institutions, InsectCOL expects to position itself in the market and implement its different lines of business.
Beyond the consumption and degradation of waste
InesctCOL is based on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), so in the future Bonilla hopes to be able to generate employment and address different social and environmental issues.
The CSR of this endeavor could be summarized as care for the environment and generation of employment for the reinserted and disabled population. Additionally, InsectCOL will be a company that includes the population in the project, through operational tasks that do not require technical or professional education.
LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza
Translated from “¡Las larvas de escarabajo son el futuro!”