Can Mushrooms Be The New Plastic?

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styroToday, plastics are among the most toxic and polluting substances we use on a daily basis. Simply focusing on styrofoam alone, it is a $20+ billion industry who’s products are found in anything from TV protective packaging to disposable coffee cups. The trouble with all of this styrofoam is that it cannot be recycled or disposed of. Once created, it stays on the planet for thousands and thousands of years. Styrofoam is petroleum based and contains a carcinogenic and neutroxic chemical called Benzene.[1] In 1986, the Environment Protection Agency National Human Adipose Tissue Survey identified styrene residues in every single sample of human fat tissue they studied, all of which were complied in 1982 within the US. This was the first time it was recognized that styrene from food and other packaging could find its way into the human body.[2] Simply put, styrofoam is not only poisoning our environment but also our bodies due to its highly toxic nature.

An Alternative Solution

Eden Bayer co-founded a company called MycoBond. Recognizing the serious impact that styrofoam was having on humans and our environment, theyeco-mush decided to eliminate the need for the material by creating a 100% biodegradable and natural material from mushrooms. They call this Mushroom Packaging. Mushrooms can easily be viewed as natures recycling system. They have been around for billions of years and they greatly help to improve soil quality. Mushrooms are effective as natures recycling system because they produce enzymes that help break down compounds in plants that other vegetation is unable to produce. At the end of the day, mushrooms create a root system containing a substance called mycelium. This can be used as a glue to hold together the agricultural byproducts used in creating an alternative packaging product that is 100% bio-degradable. Since the product is alive and grows on it’s own, the energy costs are 1/10th the cost of creating styrofoam, never mind the incredible environmental savings that is taking place.

Mushroom Packaging uses things we would generally see as waste like seed husks and woody biomass, and turns them into a packaging material that is insulating, protective, 100% compostable, fire, moisture and vapour resistant. If you look at the current life cycle of styrofoam, you will find that after it is made and use in packaging, the consumer unpacks their new purchase only to discard the styrofoam. The life cycle of MycoBond’s replacement would be the same except the end user can then put the Mushroom Packaging into their environment where it will bio-degrade and create better soil conditions in their area.

Mushroom Packaging is cost effective and can be made anywhere in the world. Best of all, it is ideal for the process to be done locally which would greatly reduce wasted energy in shipping costs as well. Since very little equipment is needed to make it, facilites could be set up all over the world quite simply.

Could this be the future of packaging?



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  1. Why are we wasting time wondering if this is a great idea or not??? Ban styrofoam and get this shit into the world ASAP!

    • Go Joe

      If the world wasn’t controlled by aliens, yeah!

    • Sandor


    • david champion

      Wonderful get to-it!!

    • That “ASAP!” bit is the sticking point that rules this out as a practical, large scale replacement for polystyrene packaging. It takes five days for the mycelium to fully colonize molded blocks in rack storage in a sterile and climate-controlled conditions, which are then dehydrated. A EPS foam block molding machine produces about 25 blocks per hour.

      Mushroom packaging is a neat idea and a cool niche product, but it is far too expensive in terms of space, time, and labour to replace EPS foam.

      • This would be a great idea…but hopefully they will label it AS a mushroom product. My daughter is highly allergic to the fungus….and will not only have hives…but respiratory issues! She even has to worry about cross contamination in restaurants. :-(

      • It’s just a longer process time, but if you have the space, it’s just as fast! After the first 5 days when you don’t have product coming out, then you have a line that is producing continuously. You stop planting apple trees just because they don’t give you apples in the first 5 years? No! :)
        And about the costs, I think the initial investment can be high, but you can make fully automated lines with only 1-2 supervisors… materials are cheap… also this can be build in less developed countries where the work force is cheap but also you create jobs…
        The possibilities are endless, what you need is will.

        • H R

          kickstart…a 3rd world mycofoam factory

      • Juju

        Actually I worked for a company that made this eps packaging. Some machines can make these blocks at a rate of 25 per 70 seconds sometimes faster. The broken or damaged ones can be re ground up and re used immediately, in all honesty this is a great idea but I don’t ever see it happening on a large scale. No company would make near as much money as they do now and it is a sad terrible truth. The world operates on how much money one can make and if they can make more. Greed. Even if there are better ideas and new ways to do it.

        • Denise

          Okay, so you can’t make a LOT of money but could you make enough to support people comfortably? Not everyone is out to get uber rich….seems like this type of business has a plethora of benefits in addition to money making possibilities…….

        • wladodragovic

          That is a sad truth… All of nature depends on a man-made, artificial, (now useless) idea that is money. It will soon be too late to save anything from the consequences that we ourselves made… We don’t have much time to wake up. :/

      • Tamara Dippel

        If people could use it and produce it in their own homes then that may change things if it saves people money while being safe. Like the 3D printers. Only with mushrooms.

  2. Paul

    Very interesting, but what material is used for the corner block molds?

  3. Shaishannah

    I think it’s a great concept, but not good for people allergic to mushrooms! :-)

    • exactly! i completely understand the concept…but like i had posted earlier…it needs to be labeled as a mushroom product. i know of many around us here…that are highly allergic to them.

      • Don Sancho

        My god all you poo pooers and naysayers?!?! It amazes me how quick people are to shit on anybody who is trying to do something substantial. Seriously how can any of you take a revolutionary idea like this and complain about something like “Potential allergies”. Maybe the reason you’re allergic to everything is because your body is completely toxic from all the crap contained in our food sources that you shove into your body on a daily basis. The bottom line is that our planet will HAVE TO make changes like this in order to survive moving forward. QUIT HATING!

        • Susansa

          THANK YOU Don! Perfectly stated!

  4. Peter

    Eben Bayer is certainly proving this inspiring evolution of the packaging opportunity can be used to make profitable business – and will need as much support as possible to stop the greedy and lazy ones destroying the world for humans ( and most other life as we know it ) – the thing is – how do I use this idea at home – where do I get the instruction manual and mushroom that works this out – I would love to grow shapes of things for packaging and building

  5. Mike G

    Can’t be cheap, even a few Portabello Mushrooms are expensive.

  6. I’m sure styroform took a while to make when it was first invented

  7. Stephen

    Surely once production is rolling thousands of these units could be coming of the end of the production line and hour?

  8. This is awesome and all, but what about the people allergic to mushrooms? You could be making their lives a living hell just by wondering what kind of poison is in the mail today. From what I just read, there is not going to be any sterilization process because the “stuff” that holds it together is the very process that holds fungus to trees. I live in an area where there are plenty of mushroom mines, so I see how it is going to be cost effective. I just don’t see anything about how to remove spores or any form of sterilization.

    • I was wondering this myself… Is it possiable just touching the product might affect a person who is allergic to mushrooms?

      • i have the same concerns. and yes…my daughter can’t even touch any part of a mushroom without adverse affects. it would be a living hell for her….:-(

    • Robert Eason

      Spores shouldn’t be an issue, as they come from the mushrooms(fruit) themselves, and from what I gather this product is made from the myceilum(roots). In order to maximize production, they would maintain an atmosphere that encourages rapid mycelium growth, but discourages actual mushroom growth. That would be my guess anyways. I wouldn’t think allergies would be an issue, unless someone actually eats the product :)

  9. This article is incorrect. Unless you are eating a building, you wouldn’t consume any styrofoam.

    The STYROFOAM™ Brand name is often misused as a generic term for disposable foam products such as coffee cups, coolers and packaging materials. These materials, however, are made from expanded polystyrene (also known as EPS) and do not have the insulation value, compressive strength or moisture-resistant properties of STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene Foam Insulation.

    There isn’t a coffee cup, cooler or packaging material in the world made from actual STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene Foam Insulation. STYROFOAM™ is a registered trademark of The Dow Chemical Company that represents its branded building material products, including rigid foam and structural insulated sheathing, and more.

    • stephanie

      I am so glad you brought this point up. For me, the lack of information the author actually knows about stryofoam is very important and negates the entire artical.

      Plus I recycle my egg cartons and coffee cups all the time. Maybe it’s time people start to lobby their city governments and get a garbage company/recycling company that does take foam. But you’re going to have to pay for it.

    • Article says “styrene”, not styrofoam. Like coffee cups and fast-food dishes, in addition to materials packaging.

      In india, kids play with styrofoam, breaking it apart and leaing micropieces everywhere.

    • The author mentions benzene found in fat sample studied in a lab test. something found a plastics cross the board, and in our bodies along with the bodies of animals we eat- regardless of its TM or it’s patents.

  10. pinkothinker

    Everybody’s allergic to styrofoam.

  11. I have a couple of questions – I’m wondering what’s used to form the products – isn’t that a plastic mold? Not ideal. Are they reusable?

    Couldn’t it be a problem to compost the corners and put foreign matter into the soil where those mushroom spores or mycelium or whatever might take over that which is naturally there? Just curious…

  12. A very informative article and lots of really honest and forthright comments made ! This certainly got me thinking about this issue, thanks all

  13. Article would have been more helpful if it actually contained some useful information, like the species of mushroom used. Otherwise, no new information here.

    • Kevin

      It was all new to me, and, I suspect, to many others. Thanks for your incite, though, Padma.

  14. Kara

    I for one welcome our new mushroom overlords.

  15. cindy


    • this would be beneficial. mushrooms work to help the environment. they don’t hurt at all, so this creation is awesome

  16. connor

    For the record, “styrofoam” is 100% recyclable and it’s actually called expanded polystyrene.

    • Zack

      Hardly anybody recycles styrofoam though. The real problem is when it is left unrecycled. This in theory would make the same product for cheap and compostable. So people could be just as lazy as normal and no harm to the environment.


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