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Food Food General

Food waste from pineapples and mushrooms turned into construction materials to build future sustainable cities.

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by: Moon Apple
Food waste from pineapples and mushrooms turned into construction materials to build future sustainable cities.

In  construction is a big source of waste and pollution. The construction industry accounts for an enormous amount of CO2 and waste. A lot of this waste can be attributed to the linear economy that runs the industry – one that is built on a “take, make, waste” model, tapping raw resources and recycling little. In fact, an estimated 90 percent of the industry's waste comes from the demolition of old buildings and 10 percent is from the construction of new buildings.  

Facing this issue, the engineering firm Arup is advocating that the industry move to a circular economy, or "a continual feedback loop that aims to recycle as much as possible, throw away as little as possible, and use as few raw resources as possible," according to Fast Company. And the way they think this can happen is by tapping another major waste stream for material: food.
Pineapples on a row

About half of all the food produced in the world ends up in the trash, accounting for about 60 million tons of food. Applying circular thinking to this issue in conjunction with construction waste could mean pouring less produce into landfills while simultaneously making building materials that are recyclable to keep construction waste out of dumps. Meanwhile, some materials could be grown like crops, eliminating excess waste entirely. In their report The Urban Bio Loop, the engineering firm sees our future buildings made from pineapples, potatoes, mushrooms, corn, oranges, bananas and more. 

“It is well known that the so-called ‘business as usual’ scenario does not represent a viable option for a sustainable future and that different development models have to be identified for our society to continue growing and prospering in the future,” Arup writes in its report. “The construction industry must reflect this urgency of change–probably more than others. In fact, it is still permeated by a number of detrimental factors such as the use of high impact materials, non-reversible building solutions, low-efficiency processes and manufacturing.”

A number of companies and designers are already experimenting with food-based materials for construction. In 2014, MoMA used 10,000 bricks constructed from mushrooms to build an experimental tower. The startup that grew the materials, Ecovative, said the bricks can be tailored to different densities and substitute particle board and Styrofoam for insulation. In Germany, the company Wood K Plus has been experimenting with a building material made from corn cobs, which are strong, insulating, and inexpensive. The boards could be used for lightweight walls, doors, and furniture. 
Mushrooms
Then there's the company Enviroboard, which is making walls from compressed wheat; Leoxx, which is making biodegradable textiles and carpets from banana plants; Organiods, which is making acoustic panels from a blend of seeds, stalks, and leaves; Materia, which is creating a cork substitute out of potato peels, which is fire resistant, water repellent, and lightweight, and can be used for acoustic and thermal insulation.
Construction made from mushrooms

But it doesn't stop there. The Thai company Kokoboard is using waste material from sunflower crops to produce non-toxic, high-strength boards that can be used for floors, ceilings, and internal walls. And in the leather-replacement space, Ananas Anam, a British start up, is using pineapples to make upholster-worthy leather substitutes, and Orange Fibre, a start-up in Italy, weaves sustainable fabrics the cellulose fibbers of citrus peels, which could also be used for upholstery. 

 

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I'm interested in everything that has to do with sustainability. My house is solar powered and I have my own water supply and filtering system.  I grow my own vegetables and fruit. Most of the time I go on the road by bicycle and for long distances I use public transport.  
I'm interested in everything that has to do with sustainability. My house is solar powered and I have my own water supply and filtering system.  I grow my own vegetables and fruit. Most of the time I go on the road by bicycle and for long distances I use public transport.  
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