British startup eyes orange peels and mushrooms for building materials

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In the United Kingdom, startup Biohm is looking to use renewable feedstocks—including cocoa husks, orange peel, and mushrooms—to create greener, toxin-absorbing building materials.

“The aim is to replace every harmful construction material with something sustainable and higher performing,” founder Ehab Sayed tells The Guardian. So far, the company has developed two materials: tiles from food waste the company has dubbed Orb, and insulation made by feeding waste to mushrooms. Sources include orange peels from the kitchen of a nearby tech company and grass clippings from an airport.

Biohm has also repurposed a paper mill to produce mycelium, helping offset the 175 jobs that were lost when the facility closed in 2015. “We’ve always wanted to have social impact embedded in our business model – we just didn’t know exactly how we were going to do that,” says Sayed. The site will produce 3,000 square meters of mycelium insulation per month and is expected to open within weeks.