Packaging from companies that ship products usually end up in one of two places; the trash or the recycling bin. The popular home furnishing store Ikea has aimed to change this by coming out with new, biodegradable packaging that will not only steer clear of the landfill, but will also help you grow your garden.
Ikea’s Biodegradable Mushroom Packaging
The company is aiming to include biodegradable “fungi packaging” as part of an initiative to reduce waste, according to Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea.
“We are looking for innovative alternatives to materials, such as replacing our polystyrene packaging with mycelium – fungi packaging,” she told the Telegraph.
Mycelium is the part of fungi that allows it to spread, grow and gain nutrients, effectively acting as the “roots” of a fungus. The product was developed by an American company called Ecovative, a “biomaterials” company that focuses on manufacturing environmentally sustainable products.
The packaging is created by allowing the mycelium to grow around clean agricultural waste such as corn stalk or corn husks. After a few days, the fibers of the fungus bind the waste together to form a solid shape, which is then dried to prevent further growth.
This product is dubbed “Mushroom Packaging,” which is meant to replace the use of polystyrene. Polystyrene is commonly used for packaging and is considered to one of the worst products for the environment as it is next to impossible to use them for recycling.
While polystyrene takes thousands of years to decompose, mycelium breaks down into soil within a few weeks. Instead of being thrown in the trash, it can be thrown in the garden where it will provide nutrients for the soil and plants that it decomposes nearby.
Although Ikea is not currently using Mushroom Packaging for its products, a spokesperson told the Telegraph that they are currently in talks with Ecovative to make an agreement in the near future.
“IKEA wants to have a positive impact on people and planet, which includes taking a lead in turning waste into resources, developing reverse material flows for waste materials and ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled,” they said. “Mycelium is one of the materials IKEA is looking into, but it is currently not used in production.”
So far, companies that use Mushroom Packaging are generally smaller, more independently run ones such as Merck Forest and Farmland Center, which uses it to package their syrup, and SPOR, which uses it to package solar power products and accessories.
To date, Dell is the only large company that is a customer of Ecovative, which uses their Mushroom Packaging for large computer part shipments.
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