Circular economy project GO CHAMPLAST will replace materials and recover mushroom cultivation waste

Spain is Europe’s third-largest mushroom grower. After cultivation, the mushroom substrate is spent and can no longer be used for industrial production. Disposing of this waste-growing substrate has become a real challenge for growers. In addition, the mulch films currently used in mushroom cultivation are very costly to recycle. In this context, there is a growing need for strategies to reuse crop residues in order to minimize the environmental, landscape and economic impact of mushroom cultivation.

The research project GO CHAMPLAST was created to provide a solution to this problem by reducing mushroom crop residue and recovering it to increase the productivity of the agricultural sector. The project proposes two innovative solutions. The first is a new formulation of compostable mulch film to replace the fossil-product plastic mulch film currently used in mushroom cultivation. The second involves the production of advanced char from the waste growing substrate and other crop residues to reduce the use of peat, a fossil product, as a cover material and to use advanced char as a fertilizer that helps improve crops, thus increasing the competitiveness and profitability of the agricultural sector.

The project also involves extracting essential oils from aromatic plant crops, such as peppermint, oregano, mint, thyme and rock-rose, to control pathogenic fungi in the mushroom crop itself. The Professional Association of Substrate and Mushroom Producers of La Rioja, Navarre and Aragon (ASOCHAMP) is the representative and coordinator of the CHAMPLAST Task Force and will carry out research through the Mushroom Technological Research Centre of La Rioja (CTICH). AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, is the project’s technical coordinator. The companies Ingelia and SAV are also participating in the project.

Implementation of these solutions has the obvious advantage of improving the profitability of farms, as it will reduce the costs associated with treating their crop residues and diversify their business through the development of advanced materials such as compostable mulch film and advanced char, which will be directly validated at industrial scale.