Biodegradable plastics exist because traditional ones take between 20 and 1,000 years to break down in the wild, often blocking waterways and killing animals as that all happens. That’s why two industrial designers and a group of microbiologists have designed a way to break down plastic — and create edible mushrooms in the process. To be precise, the team created something called the Fungi Mutarium: a glass dome that houses hollow egg-like pods containing bits of plastic in their cavities.
A team of microbiologists and designers wants our future food to pull double duty by breaking down man-made trash while growing tasty treats. The Fungi Mutarium is a prototype device that uses fungi to safely break down plastic and grow edible, fluffy biomass in its place. Here’s how it works: small bits of thin plastic—like the kind that make up shopping bags—are doused in UV light to sterilize them and start to break the plastic down. The plastic is then placed in a small pod made of agar, an edible, algae-based gelatin. The pods are placed in the “growth sphere”, a dome-like incubator. Next, liquified fungi sprouts are dribbled into the agar pods. After just a few weeks, edible fungi begin to grow and cover the pod. After several months, the fungi will completely decompose the plastic, leaving you with nothing but a natural, edible growth.