ECOVATIVE grows materials using mushrooms and biomass wastes
The potential range of applications for Ecovative materials is vast—including just about everywhere plastic can go
The company has developed materials for packaging, insulation, engineered wood replacements, automotive components and more
Ecovative is a materials science company that has pioneered mushroom-based materials for packaging, construction materials and building components including thermal and acoustic insulation. Since its founding in 2007, the company has developed techniques to harness the natural ability of mushrooms to transform tough biomass in order to create natural, compostable materials that have the potential to drive polymer-based plastics to obsolescence.
To produce the material, fungal cells are cultivated on masses of agricultural wastes, such as corn stalks, that have been pasteurized and saturated with water. At room temperature and in the absence of light, the fungi grow fibers around the waste, forming mats of material conformed to desired shapes and forms. At the final stage, the material is dried to kill the organisms. In some cases, such as wall insulation, the material can be grown in place.
Ecovative’s Mushroom® Material platform has applications for packaging, including replacing expanded foam and other petroleum and bio-based plastics; and building materials, including replacements for both thermal and acoustic insulation.
Since founding the company as graduate students in 2007, founders Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre have envisioned a world free of new, polymer-based plastic (existing plastic is here to stay), and aspire to become the first industrial age company with a net positive impact of the planet’s ecosystem. To achieve this, they closely track their products’ life-cycles, identifying areas to eliminate negative impacts of production, and opportunities to sequester carbon and deliver nutrients back to the earth.
The New York-based company has won numerous awards and recognition for its work, including the Diamond Award from the DuPont Packaging Awards in 2011, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation’s 2012 Environmental Excellence Award, and the Durable Product Award at the RISE (Research, Innovation & Science for Engineered Fabrics) Conference in 2012, and has worked with several Fortune 500 companies to design custom solutions. In addition to continuing research and development, the company is seeking new markets and partners to purchase and leverage their technologies.