It doesn't make honey, live in a hive or have yellow stripes, but the unassuming Australian masked bee holds the key to disrupting the trillion-dollar global plastics industry.
|The Australian masked bee, from the Hylaeus genus, |
is a solitary bee that makes cellophane-like nesting
material for its young.
A biotech start-up company has found the solitary masked bee's cellophane-like nesting material is not only water-repellent, as expected, but also resistant to flames, high temperatures and strong chemicals.
Humble Bee, based in New Zealand, is now in the process of reverse-engineering the nesting material in a bid to manufacture a biodegradable alternative to plastic on a large scale and at a competitive price.
"Plastic particles and chemicals have permeated ecosystems and organisms around the world, [from] foetal blood of babies [to] the most remote arctic lakes; it's so pervasive, it's terrifying," its founder Veronica Harwood-Stevenson said.
Read the story by Esther Han from The Age - “This humble Australian bee is helping to disrupt the plastics industry.”