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No matter how carefully store managers plan, supermarkets usually have bread left over at the end of the day. In Belgium, organic retailer Bio-Planet is helping save those loaves from waste streams by rerouting them to a local mushroom farmer.
Brussels-based ECLO picks up bread from Bio-Planet stores and mixes it with sawdust to create a growing medium. That substrate is packed into bags and pasteurized, after which mycelium is added and mushrooms start growing. After four to twelve weeks, ECLO harvests organic eryngii and nameko mushrooms, which are then sold at all of Bio-Planet's stores.
The partnership was launched following a pilot phase that saw ECLO collect bread from Bio-Planet's parent company Colruyt. It also uses brewing remnants from two breweries in Brussels. In 2021, 61% of the grower's mushroom substrates included 'waste' material.
Easily grown on a variety of substrate materials — rescued coffee being one of the most popular — mushrooms are a natural fit for food and beverage brands looking to bring circularity into their business model. But whether it's mushrooms or any other reused or upcycled product, most companies can't close the loop on their own. Like Bio-Planet and ECLO, start forging relationships that create a path from linear to circular.
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