Polystyrene, commonly referred to as "Styrofoam," presents a unique problem once it enters the waste stream: it's not practical to reuse and it's not economically efficient to recycle. Here at Michigan State University, one group of students from the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE) program is researching the use of mealworms to degrade this material beyond the industry standard of 20 percent.



Funded by the Be Spartan Green Student Project Fund, the Meals for Mealworms project was proposed, researched and executed by freshman students Matthew Huber, Lindsay Mensch and Kirsten West as part of the grant writing seminar for students in the RISE program. The success of their research earned them an invitation to the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference, where they showcased Meals for Mealworms along with other collegiate leaders who are developing innovative solutions to pressing world challenges.

Only one academic year into their undergraduate experience, these students are not only taking initiative to enhance their education beyond the classroom, but also proposing a solution for polystyrene waste that has realistic application here at MSU and beyond.