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's products are made with biobased renewable materials and are compostable

Ecovative bridges ecology and innovation, exerting control over mushrooms’ highly evolved capacity as nature’s recyclers to grow compostable building materials and product packaging from agricultural wastes and other biomass.
Innovation Summary

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.

As the company’s name suggests, Ecovative bridges ecology and innovation, exerting control over mushrooms’ highly evolved capacity as nature’s recyclers to meet human needs. Ecovative products are grown, not made, eliminating industrial manufacturing wastes, and, in applications where the materials are grown in place—such as between walls for insulation—eliminating resource use related to transportation. In addition to being made from renewable resources—biomass and living organisms—the material can be composted at the end of its useful lifetime, in both industrial and home-based composting facilities. This feature returns resources to the nutrient cycle rather than keeping them tied up in landfills, for example, where they can contribute to methane emissions. In addition material compostability saves energy and water compared to recycling processes for traditional plastics.  Finally, the products meet test standards for flame retardance, eliminating the need to use toxic chemicals for fire protection.The Ecovative business model taps into the existing capacities of partner companies to design, develop, market and sell products that leverage their materials platforms. This model saves resources by taking advantage of existing business infrastructure to develop and launch products, and enabling both Ecovative and its partners to leverage the expertise of the other. For example, through a partnership with Sealed Air, Ecovative has developed a line of packaging to displace petroleum based packaging foams—and ensure that products can be transported and delivered in tact but in a way that is compatible with the planet.



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.