Palm oil processing also gives rise to highly polluting waste-water, known as Palm Oil Mill Effluent, which is often discarded in disposal ponds, resulting in the leaching of contaminants that pollute the groundwater and soil, and in the release of methane gas into the atmosphere. The amount of palm oil waste produced by the palm oil plantation in South Sumatera is a staggering nine tons per hour.
Mushroom mycelium technology
Co-founded by architects including Adi Reza Nugroho and Robbi Zidna Ilman, Mycotech, an Indonesian social entrepreneurship start-up based in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia is creating affordable, durable, recyclable and eco-friendly building materials out of agricultural waste such as Palm Oil Mill Effluent by applying mushroom mycelium technology.
Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacterial colony, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae, or long, branching filamentous structures. A common example of mycelium’s binding power is the way soybeans are ‘glued’ together in a block of tempeh, a traditional Indonesian savory dish.
Mycotech had previously used woodchips or sawdust and sugarcane waste product to produce particle boards, producing upwards to 4,000 kilograms of particle board per month with the help of two mushroom farmer groups in Bandung, which consisted of 270 farmers, 64% of them women. Grown by local West Java farmers, most of whom are women, the fungi needs only one week to grow and become harvest-ready.
But from September 2019, Mycotech made its first shipment of entry doors for residential homes made from recycled Palm Oil Mill Effluent to Australia.
The research on the use of palm oil production waste material and the subsequent fire testing of the end product were made possible by funds from the Government of Australia through the Australia Awards Alumni Grant Scheme, as well as from the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Award 2017 and 2018.
As a building material, not only is Mycotech durable and flexible, it is reportedly fireproof and buoyant as well. Sturdy, lightweight products made from strong, organic fibers can be formed into custom shapes, including panels and tiles, cabinetry, and interiors.
Led by researcher Erlambang Ajidarma, Myotech has now diversified to make mycelium leather for wrist straps of their Pala X Mylea watch. Mychotech uses only 45 liters of water and creates only 0.7 kilograms of CO2 emissions, compared to 80,000 liters of water and 355,500 kilograms CO2 for cow leather.
What you can do: Purchase items from Mycotech
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