“The future is fungi”

Flooring manufacturer Tarkett has formed a partnership with Mycocycle – a Chicago-based biotech startup uses mushrooms to break down construction waste.

Mycelia (fungal root structures) have been shown to consume and eliminate toxins from construction waste, producing a natural byproduct that makes a raw material for building. Mycocycle blends lab-cultivated fungi with debris at the point of waste generation to detoxify hard-to-recycle building materials and turn them into new raw materials. Its customers include companies across the waste management, recycling, and manufacturing industries, as well as companies focused on reducing Scope 3 emissions.

Tarkett will invest in Mycocycle’s ongoing research and development. The companies will use Tarkett’s well-established ReStart take-back and recycling program to recover old flooring for recycling. The partners will further test the effects of mycelium on all types of flooring collected through ReStart and explore the resulting byproduct as a central ingredient in new flooring products.

The process starts with construction debris such as asphalt shingles, crumb rubber, gypsum board, insulation and textiles. After a two-week process with the fungi, the resulting material is processed into foam board.

Last year in North America alone, Tarkett diverted an estimated 1.5 million pounds (690 tons) of post-use flooring to recycling, both in house and with external recycling partners. Through its partnership with Mycocycle and other innovative strategies, the company is on track to at least double that number in 2024.

“From this moment forward, we’ll never aim for anything less than zero waste,” said Roxane Spears, vice-president of sustainability for Tarkett North America. “Collaborating with like-minded people working toward the same goal is the only way our world is going to solve global sustainability issues. This revolutionary partnership could change the game for commercial flooring waste handling for the entire industry, not to mention the planet. This is the future. The future is fungi.”