Polystyrene is one of the worst offenders when it comes to unnecessary single-use plastic packaging. Bulky and non-degradable, it is also a big contributor to microplastics, which wash up in our oceans and wind up in our drinking water, harming human health as well as the environment. Due to their similar structures, formation options, elasticity and strength, foam polystyrene can be easily replaced by Myco’s product – without the environmental burden.
One of the originators of the idea, Jan Ostrezi, showed Czech Radio how the process of creating the packaging works. First, the organic waste is collected and poured into a big mixer. The mixture is then sterilised, and the resultant material is suitable for growing mycelium.
David Minařík, the other co-creator, elaborates: “The mycelium functions as a kind of polymer or glue in the substrate. The substrate is composed of organic waste, sometimes also waste cardboard.”
After a month or two, the mycelium has grown sufficiently to be ground down and placed into a mould form for shaping into packaging. Finally, the product is dried. The whole process takes around two months.
The finished product can be used for gift packaging, boxes, and packing material for transporting wine bottles, for example. It can also make very good fertiliser.
And it is not just the mushrooms that are growing – next year the company will move to a bigger space and get some more powerful equipment. So with any luck, the idea will spread and be taken up in just the way that Wolfgang Neumann intended it when he founded the prize.