Dutch ‘living coffin’ aims to provide a source of life after death

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A Dutch startup has created a biodegradable ‘living coffin’ made from a fungus instead of wood that it says can convert a decaying human body into key nutrients for plants.The Loop Company says its coffin is made of mycelium, the underground root structure of fungi, and filled with a bed of moss to stimulate decomposition.

“The mycelium is nature’s greatest recycler,” Bob Hendrikx, creator of the living coffin.

“He continually searches for food and transforms it into plant nutrition. “

The coffin, seen in this close-up, is grown as a plant within a week in the company’s laboratory at Delft University of Technology by mixing mycelium with wood chips in the mold. ‘A coffin. (Esther Verkaik / Reuters)

The mycelium also devours toxins and turns them into nutrients.

“It is being used at Chernobyl to clean the ground from the nuclear disaster,” Hendrikx said.

“And the same thing happens in our burial grounds, because the soil there is super polluted and the mycelium really likes metals, oils and microplastics. ”

The coffin is grown as a plant within a week in the company’s laboratory at Delft University of Technology by mixing mycelium with wood chips in the mold of a coffin.

After the mycelium has grown through the wood chips, the coffin is dried and has enough strength to support a weight of up to 200 kilograms.

Once buried, interaction with groundwater will dissolve the coffin in 30-45 days. It is estimated that the decomposition of the body takes only two to three years, instead of the 10 to 20 years required with traditional coffins. (Esther Verkaik / Reuters)

Once buried, interaction with groundwater will dissolve the coffin in 30-45 days. It is estimated that the decomposition of the body takes only two to three years, instead of the 10 to 20 years required with traditional coffins.

Loop has so far grown and sold 10 living coffins, Hendrikx said, for 1,500 euros (C $ 2,340) each.

“When the living coffin is in the ground, you can even water it, add seeds, and you can decide which tree you want to become. “

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