Tea-rrific idea: Student develops wood alternative from kombucha waste

August 30, 2021 |

In Chicago, design student Gabe Tavas has been awarded the prestigious James Dyson award for developing a process to convert kombucha waste into an alternative for wood, including exotic and endangered species. 

Dubbed Pyrus, the material is made from a sheet of bacterial cellulose that is a byproduct of kombucha production. 

Tavas created the first batches in his dorm room while a student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He tells Fast Company he was inspired by work converting the same waste material into life jackets. “I started doing more research into problems like deforestation, and then it hit me that wood is mostly composed of cellulose,” he tells the publication. “Trees use cellulose to create their basic structures, so what if we got that ingredient from bacteria instead?”

His startup Symmetry is already selling guitar picks and jewelry from the material. He is targeting exotic woods that are endangered or are found in areas where logging causes environmental damage. 

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Category: Chemicals & Materials

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