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Mycelio

An industrial-scale waste remediation service using fungal enzymes to consume plastic waste.

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Polyurethane is one of the most diverse and ubiquitous materials ever created by man. It's incredibly durable, cheap and used in almost every aspect of modern life. Its uses range from wood stain to packaging foam to shoe midsoles.

It's also non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. 

The only option currently available is to store this waste in landfills. With the discovery of the polyurethane-waste consuming fungus Pestalotiopsis microspora, another option is possible

According to a 1987 article from the journal Phytopath, there are an estimated 1 million different fungal species on our planet. Only about 0.1 million species have been identified - leaving possibly 900,000 species of fungi to be discovered. 

The mission of Mycelio is to harness the power of the fungal kingdom to consume plastic waste - starting with polyurethane and expanding as fungal species are discovered and processed.

Idea Title

Enzymatic plastic waste consumption

Company / Organization Name

Mycelio

Website

https://mycel.io

Where are you / your team located?

Richmond, VA.

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

By addressing the large amount of existing plastic waste, we are contributing to the design of a circular solution for small-format plastic items that often end up as waste. The existence of p. microspora provides a framework and prototypical process for addressing other types of plastic waste as corresponding fungal species are discovered.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

The use-cases provided don't take into account the plastic materials used for the applications. High-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and PUR plastics are used, among other materials, to create single-use packaging, sachets, coffee lids and straws. Finding a solution to get rid of this waste, through enzymatic consumption starting with polyurethane, is a crucial part of the circular solution to this problem.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Any public, private, municipal or federally owned recycling plant or landfill.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

Mycelio would be funded by providing a polyurethane waste-remediation service onsite at polyurethane manufacturers. This service would then fund remediation at landfills. At the landfill, bulk plastic waste would be collected, shredded and fed into a mobile rotating enclosure (like a cement mixing truck) where the waste would come into contact with the bulk-produced enzyme. Benchmarks would be established by studying the composition and concentration of the consumed waste.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

The research has been done, the problem is enormous and well-known and the customer discovery model is strong. Mycelio just needs the initial push of support, through mentorship and funding, to get started on addressing one of the most pressing and defining issues we face as a civilization. This is a generational problem; the end of plastic waste will not be seen in my lifetime. But the notion is not only noble but required. We as a species can't go on any longer staying blind to our bad habits.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

I had a crisis of conscience about 18 months ago. Working in big-box retail advertising, making motion graphics and 3D animation, I realized that the work I was doing - the time I was spending - was not only meaningless but actually played a significant part in hurting people. I started thinking about what I would really want to spend my life doing and look back proudly at the work for myself, my kids and the planet. I stumbled across Paul Stamets' work on mycoremediation and found it.

Tell us about your work experience

I've been working in advertising, motion graphics and 3D animation for almost 10 years. I have a master's degree in Art Direction and am fluent in several technically challenging 3D animation apps.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Mycelio is an LLC. I am the founder and CEO with 100% equity share.

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Team

Hi Rick,

The Ideas Phase of the challenge closes TONIGHT at 11:30 p.m. PT. Your post is currently unpublished, in draft mode. In order to be eligible for evaluation, your post must be published on the platform.

We'd love to have it be included in the challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. Thanks!

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