These mushrooms eat PLASTIC! Could this be a solution to our plastic problem?
All that plastic we throw away doesn’t just go away, since most plastics don’t biodegrade. But what if we could design something that would eat it?
In 2012, researchers at Yale University discovered a variety of mushroom (Pestalotiopsis microspora) that is capable of breaking down polyurethane.
Australian designer Katharina Unger has already worked with Julia Kaisinger and Utrecht University to create an incubator for the mushrooms, which feed them sugars, starches, and plastic.
So how does it work? With the help of some serious science, the mushrooms eat them up and eventually digest the plastics completely.
The remarkable process begins with UV light breaking down the plastic. Plastic is then placed into small cup-sized pods that consist of agar, which is a jelly-like edible substance.
The plastic-eating fungi is then added to the mushroom.
Scientists then leave the plastic in the mushrooms, and eventually the plastic is eaten by the mushrooms. The mushroom is completely non toxic, and is now biodegradable.
Incredibly, the entire process only takes several weeks, in contrast to the centuries it takes plastic to break down on its own.
But it doesn’t end there. The mushroom is edible, so this contraption, called a Fungi Mutarium, is also growing the mushrooms for consumption.
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Video Credit: ScienceNature