A biotech startup in New York is using mushrooms as an alternative material to create packaging and building materials.
Ecovative uses mycelium, the ‘root’ of the mushroom, to create durable materials as a binding agent.
“Mycelium is capable of building macrostructures. This aspect is unique to our biofabrication platforms in the biotechnology space. We grow high-performance structures versus making individual components that need to be assembled into a functional material,” said their website.
These products are made from agricultural byproducts and bound together with the mycelium product, making their packaging fully biodegradable. The company can grow the mycelium into different shapes and sizes, depending on what is required.
Working with regional farmers, the company grinds, sorts and cleans the agricultural waste before growing it into packaging.
These kinds of innovations are necessary as the world faces a global waste crisis. Despite efforts to recycle, non-recyclable products are still filling up landfills and making their way into the oceans.
According to CNN, packaging is just the beginning for the start-up. Other goals include replacing leather and meat with products built from mycelium, even going so far as proposing growing organs in the future.
“My dream is to one day grow a lung and seed it with lung cells and use the mycelium to create the capillary network and use the human cells to create the actual lung,” CEO and co-founder Eben Bayer told CNN.