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Some facts that got us thinking:

Humanity is producing more than a million plastic bottles per minute worldwide and more than 90% of this is not recycled (Forbes, 2017). 250 000 units are going into the trash every hour in SA, and those are only plastic bottles.

The Cape Town metropole, alone, sends over 4200 tonnes of waste to its landfills every day. Common products like bottles and diapers take over 450 years to decompose, up to ten times as long as an aluminium can.

One rubbish truck of plastic enters the world’s oceans every minute (Volvo, 2018). In the Western Pacific there is a confluence of ocean currents causing a vortex. Floating plastic waste has gathered here in what has been termed the Western Pacific trash vortex, a 4000 km stretch of ocean with average 70g of plastic per km² (ScienceDirect, 2013). At the centre it has more than a kilogram in every square kilometre, that’s over 3000 items/km² (National Geographic, 2017).

A common material, polystyrene, is made using benzene which comes from coal, styrene which comes from petroleum and ethylene, also derived from hydrocarbons, all sourced via mining. Since the invention of polystyrene, humanity has never seen it decompose; estimates of its half-life vary between 500 and a million years. For many of its applications, polystyrene has a useful lifespan of less than 3 months, often mere minutes. By volume it makes up nearly a quarter of all our global landfill waste.

Some discoveries that got us excited:

Many types of Fungi grow as mycelium – thin filaments that extend through the soils of the Earth in search of food. Once it finds appropriate food it tends to grow multiple filaments, called hyphae, to this food source and surrounds it, webbing and netting across between the filaments to create a network of pathways to absorb and transport the food – a network like this is called mycelium.

This network structure can be replicated under controlled conditions and be grown into complex shapes – and using the right types of fungi can create mycelial networks that are robust enough to form solid, durable structures.

So, after years of research and development, allowing these organisms to grow into familiar shapes – shapes that would usually be made from plastic – we are able to grow viable organic replacements to plastic products.

We can replace polystyrene and other unsustainable materials with ecologically sound alternatives.

Ecosystem restoration and bioremediation

As we create sustainable revenue streams through the production of our various materials, we intend to focus more and more on ways to restore soils and waterways. We see this mycoremediation as a central role in the restoration of ecosystems in order to mitigate climate change and safeguard the planet’s biodiversity.

See articles and video below for context:

https://mg.co.za/article/2019-08-07-how-we-can-restore-our-ecosystems/
https://www.kosmosjournal.org/kj_article/the-holy-grail-of-restoration/
https://www.quantamagazine.org/soils-microbial-market-shows-the-ruthless-side-of-forests-20190827/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycoremediation
https://www.chelseagreen.com/2018/soil-remediation-with-fungi/
https://fungi.com/blogs/articles/mycofiltration-enters-the-commons
https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world
https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-08-15-uncovering-an-ancient-subterranean-society-are-plants-using-underground-fungal-networks-to-communicate/
https://africalive.net/company/mycominded/

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