According to one recent study, there’s at least 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. That’s more than 250 tons. So what to do with mountains of plastic waste with nowhere to go? Katharina Unger thinks we should eat it.
The Austrian designer partnered with Julia Kaisinger and Utrecht University to develop a system that cultivates edible plastic-digesting fungi. That’s right, you can eat mushrooms that eat plastic. In 2012, researchers at Yale University discovered a variety of mushroom (Pestalotiops
microspora) that is capable of breaking down polyurethane. It kicked off a craze of research exploring how various forms of fungi can degrade plastic without retaining the toxicity of the material. The findings got Unger thinking: What if we could turn an environmental problem (waste) into an environmental solution (food)?
We last wrote about Unger when she was turning fly larvae into edible treats. With the Fungi Mutarium, Unger is shooting for a similar goal: recasting what might be considered an unseemly material as a new form of sustainable food production. You can think of the Fungi Mutarium as the tool to make that happen.