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The Silicon Valley Startup Turning Piles Of Poop Into Biodegradable Products

By Ashlyn Davis

biodegradable fashion made from bacteria that feed on methane

Mango Material’s HQ is on a sewage plant and it’s using offensive gases to fuel the production of eco-friendly products

If you’re a local, you’ll know that public defecation has become an unavoidable issue. As in you’ll spend most days dodging more than just excretions from fluffy canines. However, the all-female team at Mango Materials might not see that as such a bad thing.

Unlike their tech startup counterparts, Molly Morse and her team haven’t taken up residence in a shiny glass tower or ultra-trendy warehouse, fitted with a ping pong table. Instead, they have set up camp at the Silicon Valley Clean Water facility in Redwood City, Calif. Why? Because the bacteria they’re using feed on the methane gas emitted by sewage to create biopolymers, which compete with standard petroluem-based plastics and many other materials. The key difference being that Mango materials are biodegradable.

Clean Tech Group listed them as a 2020 #cleantech100 company but as Ramani Narayan, a professor at Michigan Biotechnology Institute, pointed out in an NPR interview, biodegradable plastics still take years to decompose and they are still polluting the earth for as long as that process takes. However, the team is currently testing their claim that the materials require only a few short months to break down and they’re aiming to keep testing and progressing the technology. 

So you never know, your next Blue Bottle coffee lid or designer coat could just originate from a pile of sh*t.

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