Ecovative uses mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, to grow biodegradable materials intended to replace harmful plastics and other synthetic materials in everyday product packaging. The company’s leaders worked with UB’s Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics (CMI) to move the technology forward.
CHALLENGE & OPPORTUNITY
Since plastic was introduced in the 1950s, over nine billion tons of plastic have been produced. More than 91% of waste from producing these synthetic polymers is not recycled, and eight million metric tons of post-consumer plastic winds up in our oceans every year. If plastic production isn’t curbed, plastic pollution will outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050. The critical need to develop bio-based and earth-friendly materials has never been greater.
SOLUTION & OUTCOME
Ecovative trains mushrooms’ thread-like roots to grow on pre-formed substrates fed with agricultural crop waste to create advanced materials that will biodegrade over time. The company’s biofabrication process allows it to control the geometry, density, size and shape of the complex material for applications that not only include planet-friendly packaging, but also skincare, apparel, plant-based meat and leather-like textiles. The company’s early advancements earned the attention of worldwide media and millions in investment capital.
UB lent advanced manufacturing expertise, big data analytics and high-tech facilities and equipment to help Ecovative gain a better understanding of their raw material characteristics, fine-tune product outputs, speed the product to market and identify new market opportunities.