Meta: The circular economy in action at Meta's Gallatin data center through new mushroom project

Apr 27, 2023 | Posted by MadalineDunn

In an effort to curb construction waste, Meta has announced a new project that is using mushrooms to help mitigate some of the 660 million tons of waste sent to landfills and incinerators each year. The giant has been working with Mycocycle, a tech company in the zero-waste market, to pilot the project, which trains mushrooms to eat the waste and turn the debris into a "a fully circular product" that returns drywall to its data center buildings as "newly manufactured building products."

Joshua Craft, Facebook's lead construction manager for the project, shared that the Mycocycle project began at the Gallatin data center, when the company started looking at ways to address the construction waste issue on its job site.
The Meta-Mycocycle mushroom project

Despite the use of drywall being prevalent across the industry, it is difficult to recycle, due to being made from panels of gypsum (calcium sulfate dihydrate) bound with paper. Instead, it gets sent to landfills to decompose and produces hydrogen sulfide and ammonia in the process. 

Daniel Reyes, Head Scientist at Mycocycle, explained that this project employs circular economy principles and uses mycelium, the fungal root structures of a mushroom, which consume toxins from waste, to convert drywall into a new mycelium composite. Reyes said the mycelium grows through the material and breaks it down as it does so, reducing it to simpler forms. The final product can reportedly be used as a filler material, installation, or acoustic panels. 

Jennifer Carland, sustainability manager of DPR, said the initiative is so important because drywall waste is a "huge problem." Carland added the project could "revolutionize" how we discard building materials. Mycocycle CEO Joanne Rodriguez echoed similar sentiments: "Initiatives like the Meta/Mycocycle project are critical to the construction industry," said Rodriguez.