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VIDEO: Inventor Inspired By Childhood Memories Of Fungus

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In 2007, mechanical engineer and a friend invented a new kind of packaging material. What makes the stuff unusual is that it's fully recyclable: It's made from organic material like wood chips or cornhusks, held together by mycelium, the threadlike structures made by a fungus, such as a mushroom.

Bayer's idea has caught the imagination of a lot of other people. Now the CEO of a company he co-founded, Evocative Design, he was called a tech pioneer by the World Economic Forum several years ago, was on Forbesmagazine's 30 under 30 list in 2015 and has been recognized for his work's environmental quality by the Environmental Protection Agency. Large companies like Dell and Ikea have used his packaging to ship their products.

Watch this video, narrated by Bayer, to hear how he developed the idea for his mycelium packaging.

This video is from the Joe's Big Idea series Changing The World, One Invention At A Time. Check out the entire serieshere.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca is also the founder of NPR Scicommers – A science communication collective.