United States (Green Island)
Can mushrooms be the platform we build the future on? We’ve used mushrooms as food for thousands of years – but what if we looked at this organism, not as only a food source, but as a material? Tired of the amount of plastic piling up around the planet as well as the treatment of farm animals, Eben Bayer began growing mycelium in Central Vermont – an idea that led to the foundation of Ecovative Design. This startup takes mycelium (the root structure of mushrooms) to create incredible, 100% compostable alternatives to plastics, leather, styrofoam packaging, meat and more. Rather than being reliant on petroleum, these products use local feedstock from crop waste such as seed husks and woody biomass (which means the material can be grown anywhere and is 100% compostable).
Ecovative has currently developed three platforms around it: MycoFlex in which, as the name suggests, flexible mycelium provides sustainable alternatives to everything from plastics to leather; MycoComposite in which the mycelium serves as biodegradable packing material, and Atlast Food Co in which the structure of mycelium serves as “edible scaffolding” for meat replacement. Starting with their bacon product (expected to launch within the next year), Atlast has managed to create the taste and texture of meat with mycelium, introducing the world’s first whole-cut, plant-based meat —and using a fraction of the water and land required to raise its pork counterpart.
Ecovative is the company that first introduced this mycelium technology in 2006, when there were no mycelium products or mycelium materials. They created this entire new branch of science back then. Now, with more than 40 patents in 31 countries, most mycelium composites and materials are actually made under license from Ecovative.
Journalist and blogger, he has worked as an editor for several travel, nature and science magazines for the last 20 years.
Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, co-founders