Did you know that when thermocol comes in contact with sunlight, it produces harmful air pollutants?

The polystyrene in thermocol is the real culprit, making it non-biodegradable and harmful to the environment. However, 29-year-old engineer Chaitanya Dubey from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, found a green solution to combat this issue.

Chaitanya’s journey started four years ago when he graduated from college and was looking for new avenues of opportunity.

Although he came from a business family, he planned to get an MBA and then a job. However, his plans took a different turn when he enrolled for a small business class in Solan. “It was a brief course that, in many ways, altered my trajectory and led me to where I am today. The course opened up various career possibilities for me, and I could envision myself as an entrepreneur,” he says.

It was during this course that he was introduced to mushroom farming and its potential for generating significant profits.

Wanting to use mushrooms beyond their commercial and medicinal use, he started to delve deeper into their various parts.

During this exploration, he discovered the emerging concept of creating leather from mushrooms, which ultimately led him to create his unique version of thermocol.

In 2019, with IIT Kanpur as its incubator, Chaitanya incorporated his company under the name Kinoko Biotech — an agri-tech company that makes biomaterials out of mushrooms. Discussing the elements used to create the eco-friendly alternative, he explains, “Mycelium, or the roots of the mushroom, serves as a natural adhesive.”

“Additionally, we utilise a combination of agricultural waste and natural fibres, contributing to the durability and longevity of the thermocol,” he adds.

This thermocol-alternative takes five to seven days to be made and starts decomposing in 60 to 90 days.

Additionally, once it has served its purpose of packaging, you can also use it as fertiliser. “Just crush it and integrate it into your plants — it will serve as a natural fertiliser for them,” he says. Chaitanya who currently only sells to other businesses is aiming to make this product available to the general public soon.