We are working with Onion Collective social enterprise to produce mycelium insulation panels at our first biomanufacturing facility in Watchet.
When Watchet's Wansborough Paper Mill closed in 2015, Watchet lost 175 jobs and a major part of their identity and soul. The mill had been in operation for 250 years. Not only was it a trailblazer for the era of recycling, it was also once an exemplar employer, providing opportunities, nurturing skills and supporting the development of the town. Many of the houses and public buildings in Watchet were built by Wansbrough. In the latter half of the 20th Century, Watchet stopped being a viable location. Without the mill, the only real economic driver became tourism, with predominantly low paid and seasonal employment.
Faced with this decline, our local partners at Onion Collective, a social enterprise based in West Somerset, decided to take action, joining forces with BIOHM to bring about our a Biomanufacturing facility to regenerate this once disused site. Our first facility is supported by Power to Change and the Waitrose & Partners Plan Plastic fund, to further develop our plastic-consuming mycelium strains and build the world's first community-led bio-manufacturing facility.
Today the newly named Biomill Watchet, has two members of staff, Chris Spink and Dr. Mandy Wallington, who are working alongside BIOHM's team, to fine tune our production processes, scaling up our manufacturing whilst exploring circular technologies, which will utilise agricultural and industrial waste produced locally. As we progress, we will expand further, starting with an initial production output of 10 homes per month of mycelium insulation. We are producing some of the first test samples of our regenerative mycelium insulation panels at scale.
Biohm's first facility at Watchet was conceived to provide jobs, career progression and aspiration in response to the community's expressed needs, but also to address multiple contexts including difficult local economic conditions, disenfranchisement and the climate emergency. Our work alongside our partners, Oninon Collective, allows us to ensure that our production facilities operate are firmly aligned with at least 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals and all products naturally embed true social, environmental and economic impact.
Members of the Onion Collective and Biohm | weeks before the build of community-led biomanufacturing facility in Watchet commenced.