April 27th, 2022
Each year Australians waste around 7.6 million tonnes of food across supply and consumption chain, accounting for approximately 3% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions
Over 888 kilograms of organic waste diverted from landfill through Myco-Cycling process, with 2,250 kilograms of CO2-equivalent emissions sequestered.
Over 138,000 discarded cigarette filters collected in effort to develop sustainable recycling solution.
If it seems as if the applications of fungi are never-ending it’s probably because we have only begun to scratch the surface of their potential in areas of life ranging from nutrition to medicine to construction to research. In recent years, researchers around the world have begun to investigate how fungi, and specifically mycelium, can help us address our waste crisis.
One such group is Australia’s own Fungi Solutions, an innovative Myco-Cycling company, producing custom bio-regenerative packaging solutions from organic waste. By providing stylish practical alternatives to single use plastic in packaging as well as sound insulation, and an accessible way of remediating cigarette filters, Fungi Solutions aims to create a positive shift toward a more circular waste economy.
Amanda Morgan, co-Founder and Director of Fungi Solutions, outlines the incredible potential of fungi-based packaging and insulation along with other applications below.
“Fungi Solutions was established to reimagine organic waste using mycelium and transform it into sustainable circular products. We’re reducing the reliance on petrochemicals and recapturing existing undervalued resources. Our goal is to sequester carbon and produce regenerative material solutions for Australian enterprises. We are Australia’s first commercially available Myco-Material product manufacturers. We are 100% Australian owned and operated and hold the patents for our cultures and processes.”
“Diverting valuable resources from landfill and using mycelium to process it sequesters carbon and recaptures economic value. We see organic waste as an opportunity to grow resilient communities as well as a new kind of product, a regenerative packaging solution that is entirely home compostable. Myco-Material products actually enrich the soil and improve the microbiome when returned to the earth.
Our Myco-Cycling model is a world-first in the way we approach circularity of waste and we are pioneering approaches to pollutant remediation. We’re working toward establishing a network of Myco-Cycling hubs across Australia. A network of facilities across Australia eliminates the need for shipping waste or creating more landfill sites. While also creating new industry and fostering self sufficient communities.”
“We were looking to establish a business model that fosters collaboration and builds resilience of Australian communities. We openly share our knowledge and invite our network to grow with us. Our goal was to have an organisational structure like mycelium, a web of resource exchange, recycling and resilience building connections. We saw this as an essential next step towards a regenerative business-for-good ecosystem as the challenges of waste, climate change and social inequality require a broad scope of solutions and participants to make a positive impact.”
“Our first year of operation has seen us successfully prove that our innovative, community-led Myco-Cycling business model is feasible and there is an eager and growing market wanting hopeful regenerative packaging solutions. During this time we have diverted 888kg of organic waste from landfill, generating additional revenue streams for local producers and enabling us to sequester 2,250 kg of C02-equivalent emissions from being released. We have also collected 138,760 discarded cigarette filters for research and development of a viable recycling solution for this challenging microplastic pollution.”
“Our work aligns closely with SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production by providing a circular economy framework for organic resources to be diverted from landfill to produce sustainable alternatives to single use plastics that are fully home compostable. Our circular Myco-Cycling model can be established wherever there is waste, requiring just 12% of the energy for plastic production, with 90% fewer carbon emissions to create regenerative materials that nourish the soil after use. We only use waste resources destined for landfill and use those valuable resources to regenerate communities by providing new revenue streams and employment opportunities. While there are other fungi based material production companies in the world, we pride ourselves on our social enterprise model.
We had to invest the first year of our operation into establishing a framework for the organisation and establishing new partnerships, effectively growing a circular economy network from the ground up. This involved a lot of logistics planning, prototyping new materials and testing new waste streams before we could establish consistent production and begin producing material solutions for our client waitlist.
We sought expertise from traditional waste management organisations, legal teams that specialise in start-ups and we are thankful to have received support in business mentoring and from councils in our local area, which has been crucial to our establishment and now growth. Other skills and expertise like HR policy we were able to source through hiring contractors on a project-by-project basis.
We had to approach a wide variety of agricultural producers and local businesses to generate opportunities for waste inputs and product outputs for our processes. We also had lengthy consultations with local government bodies to pilot programs for our Myco-Cycling activities. These stakeholder discussions are ongoing.
Wherever possible we accept new waste sources to conduct cultivation tests and identify viable waste streams. In addition, we have had to expand our facilities capacity three times in our first year and a half of operation to grow our manufacturing capability and keep up with demand for sustainable products. We conduct weekly meetings amongst the team and directors to follow up on new opportunities and measure our ongoing impact generated through our Myco-Cycling activities.
We needed to grow and expand the team and offer training to establish an entirely new industry. This involves extensive operational planning and significant investment to ensure that the process could be scaled up and eventually automated to begin processing waste and producing regenerative materials at the scale required to meet Australia’s waste management needs.”
“We wanted to track how much waste was diverted from landfill, how much carbon that was able to sequester from being released and develop a fully renewable facility for production. We track our data in spreadsheets that are updated every time we accept new waste into the facility.
We have attempted to develop an elegant circular solution that has the benefits of reducing waste to landfill, generating value for communities, and providing clean circular alternatives to single use plastics to transition away from petro-chemical production. As our materials are made from waste, they are low cost and low impact to produce, and remove the operational costs for disposal in landfill for our organic waste suppliers.
We also found there were some additional benefits of production offcuts being able to be fruited to produce edible mushrooms that can be donated to community pantries to address food insecurity. Our organisation provides training and employment opportunities and sequesters carbon through our processes.
In 2021 we were thrilled to be awarded three out of four of the awards for the Early Ethical Enterprise Awards. We were honoured with the Melbourne Climate Futures, Red Hat Impact and People’s Choice awards.”
"Join us on our mission to convert waste into value as we facilitate community-led waste management through our collaborative and circular business model.
Sign up details can be found on the home page of our website https://www.fungisolutions.com.au/."