Fresh Food

Cockroaches Could Reduce Food Waste, Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Critters can also be ground into food for farm animals


Food waste produces a lot of methane, which is far worse of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which fuels global warming.

Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Co. in China thinks they have an answer. The company houses a billion cockroaches that eat their way through 50 tons of food scraps a day that doesn’t wind up in a landfill.

The food waste is collected from restaurants and any plastic, glass or metal is removed. The food waste is then blended into a mush. Inside the plant, roaches thrive in the warm, humid and dark environment and on a never-ending garbage buffet.

Cockroaches happily make more cockroaches in this optimal environment—a truly renewable resource powered by table scraps. The bugs are also a good protein sources for pigs and other livestock and can be ground into food for farm animals. The company plans to open three new plants in 2019 with the goal of handling a third of the city of Jinan's food waste.

Other cockroach farms are popping up around China as well. The biggest is pharmaceutical company Gooddoctor, which breeds 6 billion adult roaches a year—the largest colony of cockroaches. Crushed roaches are the main ingredient in the company's popular healing potion sold to more than 4,000 hospitals nationwide.


More from our partners