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Fungi-based alternative to plastics

United States – New York-based Ecovative Design has won the prestigious 2013 Buckminster Fuller Challenge and will receive US$ 100 000 worth of funding to further develop its ‘groundbreaking’ mushroom material that provides an ecological substitute for conventional plastics such as expanded polystyrene.

The business has ‘harnessed the efficiency of fungi’ to literally grow an alternative that performs and costs the same as plastic but is bio-based and home compostable, it says, going on to express the hope that the technology will resolve ‘critical concerns’ regarding waste, energy and consumer health.

Citing a study by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Ecovative points out that plastic foams are the ‘worst offenders’ in terms of landfilling worldwide. The company plans to collaborate with packaging giants and will use part of its prize funds to provide scholarships for designers.

This year’s Buckminster Fuller Challenge attracted 300 entries from around the world, from which five finalists were chosen.

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