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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:19 am
 


Plastic-Eating Mushrooms Could Save the World

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Here’s a quick exercise in despair. No one knows quite how long it takes plastic to break down in the environment. It could be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of years; at any rate, it’s proven to be longer than the roughly 150 years that manmade plastics have existed.

Count the things made out of plastic that you can see even just sitting at your desk—water bottles, pen caps, iPhone cases, coffee lids, shopping bags, tape dispensers, everything else—multiply that by a trillion or so, and you have an idea of the scope of the plastic waste on earth.

Now, just for fun, try to imagine the roughly 870 million people around the globe who are starving right at this moment. It’s enough to make you want to disown this garbage world we created.

But the good news is that for every problem, there are thousands of smart people trying to solve it. And Austrian designer Katharina Unger has figured out how to harness the power of a rare fungus that can turn plastic into edible biomass.

It all started back in 2012, when Yale researchers found a rare mushroom in the Amazon (Pestalotiopsis microspora) that was capable of breaking down polyurethane, the main ingredient in modern plastics. That led to a lot of scientists trying to figure out how to use the fungi to deal with the world’s very real plastic waste problem. Unger, who was previously known for creating a kitchen appliance that incubated fly eggs into larva for the purposes of human consumption, took the idea one step further and resolved to figure out how to use fungi to recycle waste into food. Together with Julia Kaisinger and Utrecht University, she created the Fungi Mutarium, which turns mushrooms into an edible product.

The Fungi Mutarium is comprised of egg-shaped pods made with agar, a seaweed-based gelatin substitute, that serve as a base for fungi cultivation. The designers call these cups “FUs.” After loading them with plastic waste, fungi are introduced, and the mushrooms feed on the FUs’ starch and sugar along with the plastic. After a few months the plastic is gone, and in its place is a puffy edible substance.




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:37 am
 


Magic mushrooms? 8) :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:54 am
 


Pretty much.

Step 1 Ship plastic and seaweed in bulk to starving nations.

Step 2 Start up the plastic-eating-mushroom making machine.

Step 3 shovel in plastic and seaweed

Step 4 feed starving nation the mushrooms coming out of machine

Did I miss anything?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:56 am
 


Yes. We already have enough food to feed everybody on the planet, we just don't distribute it properly. Will this project be any different?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:59 am
 


andyt wrote:
Yes. We already have enough food to feed everybody on the planet, we just don't distribute it properly. Will this project be any different?


It would grow the food where the food is needed. Seems like a solution to the distribution problem to me.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:06 am
 


You have to ship the plastic and seaweed there tho, since those societies probably don't produce enough of either. Why not just ship them regular food?

Another problem is that the more people we feed, there more people they will breed. So more pollution and use of other scarce resources, like water, say, especially if you don't want to condemn them to just sitting around their little mushroom farms and that's life for them.

If we could get these mushrooms to also produce estrogen and progestin, that might be a good thing, but nobody would be very happy with that.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:42 am
 


andyt wrote:
You have to ship the plastic and seaweed there tho, since those societies probably don't produce enough of either. Why not just ship them regular food?

It is a lot easier to ship non-perishables than perishables.

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Another problem is that the more people we feed, there more people they will breed. So more pollution and use of other scarce resources, like water, say, especially if you don't want to condemn them to just sitting around their little mushroom farms and that's life for them.

Every living being breeds until they hit the maximum carrying capacity of the given environment. We are no different.

As for the other resources, we are already starting to find alternatives and better practices for the majority of them. Even the not so scarce water.

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If we could get these mushrooms to also produce estrogen and progestin, that might be a good thing, but nobody would be very happy with that.

You are correct, nobody will be happy with that.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:43 am
 


andyt wrote:
You have to ship the plastic and seaweed there tho, since those societies probably don't produce enough of either. Why not just ship them regular food?
Easier to ship plastic than a perishable food item.

andyt wrote:
Another problem is that the more people we feed, there more people they will breed.
Studies show that as life expectancy increases, birth rate decreases. That's why first world nations need immigration just to maintain population.

andyt wrote:
So more pollution and use of other scarce resources, like water, say, especially if you don't want to condemn them to just sitting around their little mushroom farms and that's life for them.
Because collecting plastic and seawead from the ocean is going to be beyond their capabilities?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:44 am
 


I can't be the only one that wants one of these, not only because it is beneficial,but because it looks cool?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:49 am
 


peck420 wrote:
I can't be the only one that wants one of these, not only because it is beneficial,but because it looks cool?


Nope. [B-o]

It would be a good way to get rid of the stuff I can't recycle, like shopping bags.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:58 pm
 


I already grow my own mushrooms. :D


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:32 pm
 


raydan wrote:
I already grow my own mushrooms. :D

But your mushrooms have other properties. :twisted:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:36 pm
 


raydan wrote:
I already grow my own mushrooms. :D

Among other things... :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:49 pm
 


Robair wrote:
Because collecting plastic and seawead from the ocean is going to be beyond their capabilities?


Well it may well be on the scale required. For one thing, they may not live near the ocean, or there's not an abundance of seaweed where they live. As for plastic, what do you want them to do, sail out of one of the ocean gyres where the plastic gets trapped?


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