It is white, over two metres long and weighs about 25 kilos. A person can be buried in it, but the most important thing is: it lives. The Loop Living Cocoon is made of mycelium, the underground root network of mushrooms. After burial, this coffin innovation does not burden nature with hundreds of kilos of CO2, but literally adds life to it. “I do this for nature, that is my motivation. At the same time, I am proud that this beautiful, circular innovation now has a real business case,” explains entrepreneur Bob Hendrikx.
The world of Bob Hendrikx (27) has been turned upside down. His company Loop Biotech, located on the TU Delft Campus, seems to have gained momentum. His product – the world’s first living coffin – is attracting national and international attention. Bob has just heard that his company has won the ASN World Prize, an award for sustainable start-ups.
In the meantime, orders for the Loop Living Cocoon from funeral directors are starting to pour in. “It is time to take a closer look at the ordering procedure, including the follow-up, to make it an efficient flow. We are in that phase of ‘better organisation’. This is starting to look more and more like a business,” laughs Bob, who now develops, produces his cocoons and delivers to the undertakers with the help of five employees including trainees.
A living coffin, made of mycelium. “It is the world’s best recycler,” Hendrikx explains, “that converts dead organic material into valuable nutrients for new nature. In the ground, the mycelium decomposes within 45 days and is once again ‘one with nature’. If you let yourself be buried in this cocoon, you feed the earth with your own nutrients. In fact, with your death you provide a source for new life.”
What was the spark that started this enterprise? “During my architecture studies at TU Delft, I was doing material research on industrial design. I wanted to do something with nature, make living architecture with algae and sea crystals, for example. One day in the materials lab, I had forgotten to dry a piece of mycelium. The material had grown together alive. That was a eureka moment: if I keep this material alive, I thought, it will have very interesting, solid characteristics.” After numerous experiments and tests the hardened mycelium became the raw material for the cocoon. “In fact, the material is on ‘pause’ until burial. Under the ground, the material comes to life, with a human in it.”