Innovation That Matters

Training fungi to consume construction waste

Innovation Snapshot

One company has taken inspiration from the forest floor to tackle construction's waste problem

The construction industry is responsible for an estimated 30 per cent of all the waste we produce worldwide, with the United States alone producing 660 million tonnes of construction and demolition debris each year. Converting this waste into a reusable resource would dramatically reduce the environmental impact of a sector that accounts for up to 40 per cent of our carbon emissions.

Inspired by the way organic matter decomposes on the forest floor, Mycocycle has trained fungi to consume construction waste, including challenging materials like asphalt, by harnessing the enzymes that help disintegrate tough and complex organic material like bone.

Once these lab-trained fungi have done their work, they leave behind a biomaterial that is both fire and water-resistant and can be reused in a wide variety of applications – particularly insulation, packaging, and – in a perfect example of closing the loop on waste – building materials.

This process of remediation can also be applied to other complex materials such as oil and heavy metals, paving the way for a whole new field of waste treatment inspired by nature.

Video and article credit: RE:TV