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by on April 10, 2019

Mushrooms are the most widely known fungi, but they can also be microscopic, single-celled yeasts that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

As we all know plastic can take a really, really long time to break down. According to the New York Times, about 300 million tons of Plastic is produced globally each year, with only about 10 percent of it being recycled. The piles of plastics in our landfills and oceans is growing higher every day, and while reducing the amount of plastic we produce as a society is an important step in the right direction, we must deal with the most important issue, of what to do with the vast amount of plastic that have already accumulated on our Planet.

Austrian Professor Katharina Unger from the Utrecht University had the brilliant idea to create a “Fungi Mutarium,” a terrarium  environment in which small cups of agar (a seaweed-based gelatin) are filled with plastic waste, and mushroom spores.

Over the course of a month or so, the fungi’s mycelium (roots) slowly grow, subsisting off of the plastic and materials in the agar cup’s walls, eventually completely consuming it and filling the cup, having transmuted the plastic into edible material. The final product can be flavored, filled with food, and even eaten whole. Unger said the taste was like “sweet with the smell of anise or licorice.” 

The entire process takes from 2 weeks to a few months for the plastic to completely consumed, but Unger is working on accelerating the system, as well as testing other types of mushrooms that could possibly be used.

While research still needs to be done to prove they’re completely safe for consumption. The idea of “plastic-eating mushrooms” is an exciting innovation that could potentially change the way human beings disgaurd and recycle plastic.

Posted in: Health