How Cockroaches Are Being Used to Process Food Waste in China

It’s enough to make your skin crawl.

It’s enough to make your skin crawl.

Every day at one company in Jinan, China, 1 billion cockroaches are fed 50 tons of kitchen waste, according to Reuters. Officials there say it’s an efficient way to get rid of food waste as cities continue to expand.

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

Outbreaks of African swine fever recently led to a ban on using food waste as pig feed. Now, people are turning to the cockroaches.

“It’s like turning rubbish into commodities, turning trash into resources,” said Li Hongyi, chairman of Shandong Qiao Bin Agricultural Technology Co Ltd, where the billion cockroaches gorge on trash.

There are several waste composting firms popping up around China. One farm in the southwestern Sichuan province houses 3.4 million cockroaches. Another company in the same province called Gooddoctor houses 6 million.

Wen Jianguo, Gooddoctor’s manager, notes that the bugs are used as raw material in traditional Chinese medicine. “The essence of cockroaches is good for curing oral and peptic ulcers, skin wounds and even stomach cancer.”

As for the possible escape of the creepy critters? “We have a moat filled with water, and in the water, there are fish. If the cockroaches escape, they would fall into the moat, and the fish will eat them all,” Jianguo said.