Could this warehouse of cockroaches help end climate change?

Feb 5, 2019 by


cockroaches eating food
© gan chaonan/Shutterstock

Somewhere in China, a billion cockroaches scuttle through a moat-surrounded factory.

One company says it’s figured out a way to decrease greenhouse gasses: cockroaches.

Food waste normally releases methane, a greenhouse gas. So Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Company in China put together a warehouse of cockroaches to eat the waste — 50 tons of kitchen scraps every day. The company sells the cockroaches, which get ground up into animal feed or used in medicines.

The company claims this is all for the good of the planet, but I’m skeptical. After all, food waste always gets eaten by bugs, whether or not there’s a handy warehouse of cockroaches nearby.

Besides, cockroaches produce their own greenhouse gasses. According to the Huffington Post:

The skittling insects were named and shamed by Rentokil as releasing more methane in relation to their body weight than any other creature in Britain … The American cockroach, a common pest throughout the UK, can give off up to 35g a year of methane; more than 43 times their average body weight.

Not to mention the problems that could occur if the cockroaches get loose. They could seriously wreak havoc on local ecosystems. Although the companies have a plan to deal with this.

“We have a moat filled with water and fish,” said Wen Jianguo, the manager at another cockroach factory because this is apparently becoming a big thing in China. “If the cockroaches escape, they will fall into the moat and the fish will eat them all.”

I’m not convinced. I don’t see fish in a moat eating billions of cockroaches. Nor do I think the cockroaches will just jump out of the windows into a moat.

Overall, this doesn’t strike me as a cure for climate change. It looks like a way for companies to profit off a process that will happen naturally no matter what.

Not that I think warehouses full of cockroaches, creepy as they may be, are the heart of this problem. The real issue is, why do we have so much food waste in the first place? Figuring out how to waste less food seems like a much more promising strategy than creating nightmare cockroach warehouses. Just saying.

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