Ecological alternative to plastic packaging.

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Biodegradable packaging from mushrooms
By Jinny Throup
The Swedish furniture retailer Ikea plans to use mushroom-based packaging as part of its efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling. Aware of the environmental devastation that polystyrene creates, the company wants to be part of the solution by introducing biodegradable eco-friendly mycelium “fungi packaging”. Mycelium is the part of a fungus that effectively acts as its roots. It grows in a mass of branched fibres which attach themselves to the soil or whatever surface the fungus is growing on. Known as Mushroom Packaging, and developed by the US company Ecovative, this alternative to Styrofoam is created by letting the mycelium grow around clean agricultural waste, like corn stalks. In a matter of just a few days, the fungus fibres bind the waste together to form a solid shape at which point it is dried to prevent further growth.

Unlike polystyrene, which takes thousands of years to break down as well as being detrimental to the wildlife that ingests it, Mushroom Packaging can be disposed of simply by throwing it in the garden where it will biodegrade within weeks. In addition to Ikea, Ecovative is now selling this product to other large companies, including the computer giant Dell, and a number of companies in the UK.


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