Lendlease and partners use mushrooms to decarbonise construction waste

Lendlease, in partnership with Rubicon Technologies, Mycocycle, and Rockwood Sustainable Solutions, announced the completion of a successfully partnered pilot to decarbonise construction waste using mushrooms.

The pilot involved used asphalt shingles, mushrooms, and mycoremediation technology to reduce construction and demolition waste. Their goal is to produce a sustainable and reusable product to further create a more circular economy.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 11 to 13 million tons of asphalt shingles end up in landfills each year, where they take upwards of 300 years to break down.

After seeing the large percentage of waste that was generated by used asphalt roofing shingles from a recent reroofing project at their Fort Campbell Army installation in Kentucky, Lendlease, Rubicon, Mycocycle, and Rockwood Sustainable Solutions proposed a solution to reuse the material in a new capacity.

“Every asphalt shingle from those 214 homes would have gone to a landfill,” said Sara Neff, Head of Sustainability at Lendlease Americas.

“There was simply no viable use for them. We understand the importance of reducing our Scope 3 carbon by diverting waste streams from the landfill. After teaming up with Rubicon, Mycocycle, and Rockwood Sustainable Solutions, we came up with an innovative idea using mycoremediation technology; combining mushrooms and shingles to break down waste materials and create a new by-product that could ideally be reintroduced for reuse, furthering a circular economy.”

Shingle samples were gathered and transported to Rockwood Sustainable Solutions’ facility in Lebanon, Tennessee where Mycocycle, an environmental remediation company that uses fungi to decarbonise waste streams, performed what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind pilot study, mixing the sample with three strains of fungi – a process called mycoremediation.

“The successful completion of this pilot is a fantastic example of environmental innovation in action,” said Nate Morris, Chairman and CEO of Rubicon.

“Rubicon’s mission is to end waste, and it is innovations such as these that find second life circular solutions for hard-to-recycle materials.”

Joanne Rodriguez, Founder and CEO of Mycocycle said the pilots continue to see excellent results among a wide range of materials.

“This partnership has the potential to be a template for the future,” continued Neff.

“Of those 11 to 13 million tons of asphalt shingles dumped in landfills each year, only 5-10 per cent are being recycled. Taking a product that is no longer viable and combining it with a natural renewable source that results in a new product is a phenomenal outcome that is both beneficial to the environment and bolsters the economy.”

Alexandra Ewing of Lendlease, Chris Batterson of Rubicon, Lincoln Young of Rockwood Sustainable Solutions, and Joanne Rodriguez of Mycocycle will be hosting a session on the results of the project.

Titled Forging a Truly Circular Economy for Toxic C&D Materials, the session will be held at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo on Tuesday, November 1, 2022 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.

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