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Mushroom waste research could help create circular industry

Date: 07-Apr-20
Author: Liam Taylor

Research on Australian mushrooms could help the industry become more sustainable both domestically and internationally.

Research on Australian mushrooms could help the industry become more sustainable both domestically and internationally.

A group of Adelaide-based researchers are investigating applications for mushroom waste that could create a fully sustainable system while saving the industry thousands.

The research team is looking into ways the by-product from mushroom stalks could be worked into a host of products such as sunscreen, skincare and outdoor furniture coating. The stalks have historically been disposed of in landfill at substantial cost to growers but finding new ways to use the material could save the industry thousands.

"We twist the mushroom out of their beds and we cut the stalk part, which is the waste part,” Mushrooms SA general manager Nick Femia told ABC News.

"We produce around three to four tonnes of waste every week — there's obviously around 150 to 200 tonnes a year, so it's quite costly…. if you can remove the cost of the waste, and if you can get some form of income from the by-product, then it's a win-win situation and makes our industry more sustainable."

In the process being investigated, scientists extract polymers from the stalks and turn that can be used for industrial applications. When these polymers are combined with other molecules, they can be used to block UV radiation in skincare products or as outdoor coating for furniture, among other uses. The use of these natural compounds from mushrooms would replace artificial compounds currently used in these products. 

For those concerned about sunscreen that smells like fungi, rest assured. The process of extracting and purifying the important molecules from the mushrooms removes any odor from the substance.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.

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