The past year and beyond have seen exciting developments in the realms of mycelium-based products and mycoremediation efforts, underscoring the innovative applications of fungi in addressing environmental and sustainability challenges across various industries. Here’s a coherent overview of these advancements:

  1. Mycelium Products in the Sustainable Food Sector:

    • Hamburg-based Mushlabs has been leading the way in utilizing a unique fermentation process to cultivate mushroom mycelium. This process produces an ingredient known for its rich umami flavor, minimal off-flavors, and naturally fibrous texture, making it ideal for plant-based product development. Mushlabs’ approach not only promises a balanced nutrient profile for their products but also capitalizes on the upcycling of side streams from food and agriculture, thereby increasing circularity and resource efficiency. This innovative process forms part of their broader strategy to commercialize mycelium-based foods, with aims for partnerships with major food and beverage companies and the development of their own product brand.
  2. Recent Investments and Innovations in Mycelium Products:

    • Infinite Roots (formerly known as Mushlabs) secured a record $58M in Series B funding, marking the largest investment in mycelium in Europe. This funding highlights the potential of mycelium as a sustainable source of protein and its environmental benefits, including carbon sequestration and reduction of food waste.
    • MycoWorks began production at the world’s first commercial-scale Fine Mycelium™ plant in Union, South Carolina, representing a significant milestone for the biomaterials industry. This facility, backed by significant investment, leverages advanced technology to produce high-quality mycelium material at scale, indicating a bright future for mycelium as a key player in sustainable materials and alternative proteins.
  3. Advancements in Mycoremediation:

    • The Post-Fire Biofiltration Initiative in California utilizes fungi-packed wattles to filter and break down chemicals in waterways contaminated by wildfires. This innovative use of oyster mushrooms showcases the potential for fungi to contribute significantly to ecosystem restoration and pollution mitigation.
    • A pilot project in Wisconsin is exploring the use of mushrooms for soil remediation, specifically targeting soil contaminated by oil spills. This research investigates how gourmet mushroom varieties like pearl oyster and Italian oyster can degrade or isolate contaminants, offering a sustainable alternative to traditional remediation methods.
    • Research into the use of fungi to mitigate plastic pollution has revealed that certain types of mushrooms can consume plastic, transforming it into organic matter. This approach presents a promising avenue for sustainably addressing the global plastic waste crisis, although challenges related to the degradation rate and scalability remain.

These initiatives and developments not only demonstrate the versatility and potential of fungi as natural solutions to environmental issues but also contribute to the evolution of more sustainable practices in waste management and material production. The ongoing research and investment in mycelium products and mycoremediation projects reflect a growing recognition of the critical role fungi can play in creating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

MycoComposite and MycoFlex by Ecovative Design: Ecovative Design has pioneered the use of mycelium in creating sustainable materials like MycoComposite and MycoFlex. MycoComposite is used in packaging, insulation, and even furniture, employing mycelium as a binder with agricultural byproducts. MycoFlex, on the other hand, is a 100% mycelium product developed into flexible foams, offering a sustainable alternative to traditional foams in cosmetics, luggage, and footwear​​​​.

MycoInsulation and MycoMATERIALS by MycoWorks: MycoWorks focuses on creating high-quality materials using Fine Mycelium™, including MycoInsulation for sustainable building insulation and MycoMATERIALS for various applications such as MycoFoam and MycoTextile​​.

MycoProtein by Terramino Foods: Terramino Foods has developed MycoProtein, a sustainable, plant-based protein source from mycelium, addressing the growing demand for alternative proteins​​.

MycoFurniture by Fungi Futures: Fungi Futures produces MycoFurniture, utilizing mycelium and agricultural waste to create a line of sustainable furniture, demonstrating the application of mycelium in the design and manufacture of eco-friendly home furnishings​​.

MyBacon by MyForest Foods: A notable addition to the list of mycelium-based products is MyBacon, a mycelium-based bacon alternative created by MyForest Foods. Using Ecovative’s AirMycelium™ technology, MyBacon aims to replicate the taste and texture of traditional bacon in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. It represents a significant step forward in the use of mycelium in food production, offering a guilt-free alternative to meat that’s grown sustainably in vertical farms​​.

The incorporation of mycelium into these various products highlights its potential as a sustainable alternative to traditional materials in industries ranging from construction and packaging to fashion and food. The commitment of companies like Ecovative Design, MycoWorks, and MyForest Foods to innovation and sustainability underscores the growing importance of mycelium in the global effort to create more eco-friendly products and processes.

“A masterpiece. The Fantastic Fungi Community Cookbook is, by far, the best culinary guide to cooking and pairing mushrooms. . . . This book makes me so hungry, I want to eat it.”
—Paul Stamets, mycologist