Fungi Solutions develops mushroom-based packaging from landfilled waste

AUSTRALIA – Melbourne-based startup, Fungi Solutions has developed what it claims to be “Australia’s first” mushroom-based packaging from landfilled waste.

The start-up packaging company aims to divert organic waste from landfills, marking it as the first business in Australia to convert fungi into packaging.

The converting process combines fungi with organic waste to grow and create compostable packaging. After use, the packaging is home-compostable, allowing consumers to compost the products in their backyards.

The innovation works in tandem with Australia’s national target to remove all single-use plastic packaging by 2025 and for all packaging to be recyclable, reusable or compostable.

Founders Camden Cooke and Amanda Morgan launched Fungi Solutions in 2020, the company has reportedly displaced about 900 kilograms of waste from landfills.

In addition, it is said to have prevented thousands of metric tons of carbon pollution that would have been caused by manufacturing new packaging.

Camden Cooke, co-founder of Fungi Solutions says: “Fungi Solutions was built out of a passion to create alternatives for waste management and to show that there is a natural non-harmful solution to the global waste issue.”

The bio-based packaging producer is working with local wine producer, Minimum Wines, using waste from the wine production to create bottle packaging.

“The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization identified grape marc [solid waste left over from pressing grapes] as being one of the most abundant food loss streams in horticulture,” asserts Morgan.

“They have about a 30% loss of their entire harvest as a waste product at the end of that process, representing a huge opportunity to convert that into a valuable product.”

The process begins with agricultural waste such as stems, seeds and cut-offs or commercial waste like textiles, cardboard paper and sawdust.

The waste is broken down and combined with mycelium, the root network of fungi, to be placed in a mold.

The mold is then placed in a warm dark room and grown to form in seven days. It’s then dried to create solid packaging.

Morgan explains that the process takes longer than an average PET plastic packaging solution but has the benefit of being more environmentally sustainable.

The company is also collecting organic waste from local councils for reuse and working on reusing cigarette butts.

The founders hope their packaging will eventually be found on supermarket shelves. “We’re hoping to see the process scaled up to meet the volume of demand,” concludes Cooke.

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