Fungi replacing and eliminating plastic usage

Jaime Ortega

Date: March 13



Ecovative Design, Troy, N.Y.


Scientist are able to manipulate certain strains of fungi’s Mycelia in various ways in order to make versions of the fungus to suit certain applications. The speed and shape of growth can all be altered and tinkered with in the same manner as plastic. Fungi are capable of growing in and around just about any organic substrate.

“Looking something like extremely delicate, white dental floss, mycelia grow in, through and around just about any organic substrate. Whether it’s leaves or mulch, mycelia digest these natural materials and can also bind everything together in a cohesive mat. And these mats can be grown in molds, such as those that might make a packing carton.”   –

Wine Packing


With the introduction of this organic plastic replacement we are capable of removing a grand percentage of waste in the world. In the United States alone we trash about 16 billion plastic containers each year. In addition to other kinds of packaging that go into electronics, bottles, etc. from the average Americans consumption is 66 pounds of packaging annually. Every year, the world is polluted by 100 million tons of plastic and with this engineering feat of nature we can eliminate this waste by replacing it with a substance that is vital in degrading and breaking things down. Fungi and bacteria are a leading factor that help us from being trapped deep under meters of waste, both plant matter and animal.

This is the first steps in practical usage for replacing and hopefully eliminating the use of plastic in the world with a degradable substance that will help the world throughout its entire life cycle from production to usage by consumers to when its thrown out and breaks down in a organic way back into the environment in a natural cycle.

resize2 new packaging0493

These all-natural products can take less than 5 days to develop. They are also have no allergy concerns and are completely non-toxic. A more impressive feature is the fact that they’re also practically impervious to fire and just as water resistant as Styrofoam, but unlike styrofoam they won’t sit around taking up space in a landfill. In addition they are also more UV-stable than foam because it is not petrochemical-based, and won’t emit volatile organic compounds. Finally when exposed to the right microbes, they will break down in approximately 180 days in any landfill or even your own backyard.

Read more at:

primary design lens: World/Manufacturing/lifestyle innovation

Secondary: world plastic waste

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One Response to Fungi replacing and eliminating plastic usage

  1. Barbara says:

    Jaime, this is an interesting example. You should look at the Cradle to Cradle excerpt posted under additional reading (if you haven’t already read this).

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