18 Apr 2023

Magical Mushroom Company® is leading a sustainable packaging revolution

Magical Mushroom Company® manufactures mushroom-based sustainable packaging.

They aim to become Europe’s largest sustainable packaging company, operating at a scale that will help make polystyrene packaging a thing of the past.

The need to reduce the use of plastic and move towards carbon neutrality is a necessity, and responsible businesses around the world are eager to do their part. However, finding a scalable, competitively priced alternative to polymer-based plastic is not a simple task.

Statistics platform Statista estimates that UK households throw away a staggering 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging a year, averaging 66 items per household, per week. 345 kilotonnes of this packaging every year is made from polystyrene and polyethylene foam. Although useful, these materials rely on petrochemicals for their production and cannot be recycled in the UK.

Magical Mushroom Company® (MMC) believe the environmental impact of polystyrene is not talked about enough. Commercial manufacturing of polystyrene began in the 1930s, and it is estimated that most pieces still exist today – most of them now in landfills. Being highly resistant to photolysis, polystyrene takes around 500 years to biodegrade. Even then, this introduces micro-plastics into the marine system and eventually the food chain, to the detriment of wildlife and humans.

By comparison, packaging made from mushrooms is fully biodegradable and biodigestable, so it can be recycled alongside food waste. It’s also suitable for anaerobic digestion, a process through which bacteria break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen. In addition, mushroom packaging can be broken down and reused to manufacture new packaging. Launched in 2019, Magical Mushroom Company® has grown to a scaling business that currently produces hundreds of thousands of pieces of packaging for a wide range of products and companies across Europe.


What does MMC do?

The company aims to render society’s reliance on polystyrene obsolete, accelerating the shift towards sustainable packaging. MMC’s packaging is a revolutionary alternative to traditional polystyrene, offering the same protective properties while being biodegradable and approved for use as a feedstock in anaerobic digestion plants.

By harnessing the natural flexibility and strength of mycelium, the material structure of fungi, MMC grows protective packaging by combining it with agricultural waste such as hemp, cork and sawdust. Mushroom packaging grown in MMC’s factories is a direct replacement for cardboard and single-use plastics, and packaging inserts such as die-cards.

The production process involves sourcing agricultural waste from regional farmers and using mycelium to bind it together into a high-performance material. After six days of growth and drying, the packaging is now an inert composite material and ready for use.

MMC believe their packaging competes with polystyrene in terms of price as well as performance, providing a reliable option for heavy items while being kind to the planet as it can also be repurposed or returned. With the new plastic tax, many businesses are seeking alternatives to polystyrene and other foams, and MMC offers an end-of-life solution for packaging that is only used for an average of 72 hours.

Find out more about MMC in their new RE:TV documentary

Who is MMC helping?

Since 2020, Magical Mushroom Company® has produced over two million pieces of mushroom packaging. This directly disrupts the polystyrene market. MMC believes they are the first company to have a serious, quantifiable impact on the fossil fuel-based foams industry. By 2025, the company aims to have effectively removed over 4,000 tonnes of EPS polystyrene packaging from landfills.

In replacing polystyrene as a packaging solution, the company is aiming to make a positive change to society and our environment.


How does MMC work?

According to MMC, clients expect to pay a maximum of 4% of their product value for protective packaging. Sustainable options are often thought to be more expensive and less sturdy. However, with increasing interest in sustainable packaging and companies striving to achieve their environmental goals, mushroom packaging has proved itself a reliable option even for heavy items such as sofas, heat pumps, and home audio systems. It provides physical protection while also being kind to the planet.

At present, the raw materials for MMC’s plant are supplied in pre-inoculated bags. This results in 90% of MMC’s measured carbon footprint being accounted for by the transporting of raw materials. The high cost of raw materials led to the MMC being awarded a £1.1m Innovate Loan to open Europe’s first liquid mycelium inoculation plant. This allows the company to control the supply and quality of its raw materials in-house, which is expected to reduce raw material costs and carbon footprint by 70%.

Meet the Founders

Paul Gilligan, founder and CEO

Paul is a highly experienced international manager with a broad range of industry experience. He spent 14 years in senior roles at Sainsbury’s, where he won several industry awards. 

After learning about mushroom packaging, Paul flew to visit the Mushroom Packaging patent holders and founders of Evocative, unannounced. He convinced them to start negotiations for an exclusive UK license. Paul founded MMC Holdings International Ltd, which controls all their subsidiary companies in the UK and Europe. Once the UK factory in Esher was up and running, Paul signed an exclusive license for the EU. 




The next steps

Magical Mushroom Company® has a strong list of current customers and partners, which includes international brands such as Diageo, Raymarine, BA Components, and Ffern. The company has signed three major multi-year supply contracts.

MMC aims to capture 5% of the EPS market in the UK by 2025. They believe this will remove approximately 10 kilotonnes of EPS from landfills. By 2040, with mass adoption of sustainable packaging solutions, the company expects to remove 30% of EPS from the market.

MMC also plans to build at least 10 factories across the UK and EU, and as of 2023 the company has witnessed growing customer numbers in France, Italy, and Germany. By 2028, it plans to open five additional production plants. Their Attenborough factory is currently expanding its production capacity and they believe it will be operating at 90% capacity by June 2023. Their Sofia plant has three times the production capacity of the Attenborough factory, and an additional factory is currently being built in Beeston, Nottinghamshire.

Given the scale of the problem that Magical Mushroom Company® is addressing, the team has decided to fundraise through *FlowwMarkets. Thanks to its innovative technology and unique founder-friendly platform, fundraising and investor management is streamlined and simplified – a perfect fit for them.

This fundraise closed on FlowwPool on 30th November 2023.

*Floww Markets Limited is a company authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm reference number 980098. 

The information contained within this article does not represent the opinions of Floww. Floww does not have a view on opinions provided by Magical Mushroom Company in this article and elsewhere where they may be expressed, and is not responsible or liable for the information within this article.