the humble mushroom looks set to play a crucial role in the future of sustainable packaging
A biological packaging material that performs like plastic but can consume crop waste as it ‘grows’ and completely biodegrades after use, sounds too good to be true! This is exactly what Ecovative, a small company based in New York has developed in its mushroom based packaging material called Mycelium. Customers include computer giant Dell, which uses it to cushion large computer servers, Crate & Barrel and is also being considered by IKEA. Ms Yarrow, Head of Sustainability for IKEA UK says moving to mushroom-based packing materials is an important part of reducing IKEA’s environmental impact as much of their existing packaging is plastic and polystyrene, which is very difficult to recycle.
“IKEA has committed to take a lead in reducing its use of fossil –based materials while increasing its use of renewable and recycled materials.”
growing materials ecovative design
How the Mushroom Packaging is made
- Agricultural waste such as corn husks is cleaned.
- Mycelium is added, and the mixture is left for a few days.
- Mycelium grows fibres as it reaches out to digest the agricultural waste.
- Mixture is broken up into loose particles.
- Particles are put into shaped mould for a few days and the Mycelium grows and forms a solid shape.
- The solid shape is removed and dried to stop growth and prevent production of mushrooms or spores.
A development like Mycelium packaging is a hugely positive one for the packaging industry. It’s fit for purpose as demonstrated by its role in Dell’s supply chain, it feeds off crop waste, it’s biodegradable and it offers a completely bespoke packing solution because it’s grown to shape. At last a truly viable sustainable packaging solution for brands and retailers.