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Fungus: The Plastic of the Future

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In 2014, Ecovative Designs was working to combine mycelium with local crop waste to make a compostable biomaterial for packaging, and continue to expand their efforts. One example: A collaboration with Netherlands-based designer Eric Klarenbeek who 3D-prints with living mycelium and potato starch to create safe and sustainable products. The results are lightweight, strong, fire-resistant, water-repellent, and biodegradable.

In this Motherboard video from 2015, we meet Klarenbeek, as well as other innovative designers, scientists, and researchers—Han Wösten, Maurizio Montalti, and Willem Velthoven—who are working to improve this renewable biopolymer material for both mass production and creative endeavors. It’s an ambitious effort to replace the single-use plastics that are plaguing our planet.

mushroom forms
A summary of the mission from Klarenbeek’s Krown Design:

Mycelium is infinitely available and acts as the living glue to bind this organic waste. Let’s join forces to strive for a less plastic and oil dependent economy!

The material is literally grown, not manufactured. We use a growing organism to transform agricultural waste products like husks from hemp, flax and corn stalk into a beautiful protective product that is safe and natural.

The plant material produces oxygen during its life cycle, simultaneously binding CO2. Within our production process we try to minimise emission, opening its potential to create products with a negative ‘carbon footprint’. Instead of wasting less, we strive to absorb emission.

Krown focuses on greenest and cleanest production method imaginable on the planet. We search for ways to produce while absorbing emission. Is this revolutionary? Yes, because in the modern factories this has never been used. No, because mycelium is one of the oldest materials on our planet. We just use the power of nature to grow products.

Watch and learn more about Ecovative Designs’ biodegradable mushroom packaging.

Then watch more videos that feature plastic alternatives:
• The Fungi in Your Future
• Edible milk-based packaging
• An innovative edible spoon
The 16-year-old who turned banana peels into a bioplastic

h/t @Kottke.

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