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Magical Mushroom Company

Working with nature to create an eco-friendly alternative to polystyrene

Polystyrene takes around 500 years to break down. This means that every piece of it that has been produced still exists today, and once discarded, ends up in landfill or contributing to the pollution of our waterways and oceans via microplastics that then end up in the food chain.

Food and beverage containers made from polystyrene have been banned in The European Union since 2021, and in 10 US states to date, with a UK ban coming into force from October 2023. However, the material is still widely used in packaging: 345 kilotonnes of which is thrown away by UK households alone every year. Although useful, polystyrene and polyethylene foam rely on petrochemicals for their production and cannot be recycled in the UK.

Now, the strength and versatility of polystyrene has been replicated using mycelium, the underground threads of fungi from which mushrooms fruit. These act like an "tree’ beneath the earth, providing nutrients to forest fauna in exchange for sugars. Mycelium is made from Chitin, a natural glue that is water resistant and flame retardant. UK firm Magical Mushroom Company takes mycelium and combines it with agricultural by-products, such as hemp, sawdust, cork, or wheat, to ‘grow’ packaging of any size or shape. The process takes just six days of growing and kiln drying before the product is ready to use.

As an alternative to polystyrene, it is cost competitive, and at the end of its life is completely biodegradable. Alternatively, it can be used in anaerobic digestion plants to create clean energy.

To find out more about Magical Mushroom Company, visit their website at

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