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When it comes to waste disposal in China’s cities, cockroaches appear to be the the answer. (Photo credit: REUTERS/Thomas Suen)

In July 2018, the South China Morning Post reported that Beijing residents create over nine million tonnes of domestic garbage in one year with over 40 per cent of that waste ending up in land ll. Garbage incineration plants are being built but are yet to reach operational capacity.

China’s urban waste disposal problem may have been solved with a novel idea: cockroach farms. The new form of waste disposal sees millions of cockroaches devouring food scraps by the tonne in a bid to tackle the country’s increasing food waste issue. So far, the results have been encouraging.

On the outskirts of Jinan, capital of eastern Shandong province, a billion cockroaches are being fed with 50 tonnes of kitchen waste a day – the equivalent in weight to seven adult elephants. At the plant run by Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Co., the waste arrives before daybreak, where it is fed through pipes to cockroaches in their cells. The air is kept warm and humid to ensure the colonies maintain their health and appetites.

Shandong Qiaobin plans to set up three more cockroach plants in 2019, aiming to process a third of the kitchen waste produced by Jinan, which is home to about seven million people.

“Cockroaches are a bio-technological pathway for the converting and processing of kitchen waste,” said Liu Yusheng, president of Shandong Insect Industry Association.

Cockroaches are also a good source of protein for pigs and other livestock. “It’s like turning trash into resources,” said Shandong Qiaobin chairwoman Li Hongyi.

Reworked article from: ‘Bug Business: Cockroaches Corralled by the Millions in China to Crunch Waste’ by Thomas Suen and Ryan Woo. Reuters, December 10, 2018.