GOOD 100: Meet Eben Bayer, Challenging Our Need for Plastic

Eben Bayer might be the world’s first fungus magnate. His company, Ecovative Design, sounded Styrofoam’s death knell when it rolled out its new Mushroom® material—a compostable packaging alternative made of agricultural waste and mycelium. New applications are being developed every day for this “magic” material, which will replace plastics in a host of industrial and home uses.
Bayer says his biggest project in 2013 will be growing Ecovative's Mushroom® Platform. For its first commercial offering, protective packaging, Ecovative will be working with its strategic partner, Sealed Air, to build a second factory in the U.S. and continuing to improve its sustainable material's performance and price.
Ecovative is also working on new applications for its Mushroom® material, following the success of its compostable alternative to Styrofoam ™ packaging.
“It has been a great, and very impactful entry point for us,” Bayer says. “We are decreasing waste and providing customers with nutrients, not pollutants.”
Some products in the works are consumer apparel, home goods, and even building materials.

Plastics end up in many strange places, Bayer says, and Ecovative wants to know exactly where. This is why Ecovative is providing a few entrepreneurial individuals with its patented Mushroom® bits, which are then used to replace plastics in all sorts of applications.
“In one case, this meant hand molding and growing Mushroom® bits to replace the foam cores used in taxidermy,” Bayer says. “There are hundreds of thousands of other places Styrofoam ™ and other plastics are used, and we can't do it all.”
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