The innovative furniture retailer Ikea has taken the initiative to use biodegradable mycelium “fungi packaging” as part of its efforts to reduce waste from packaging material and increase recycling. The fact that polystyrene is devastating to the environment is well known. According to a Harvard factsheet, polystyrene made from petroleum, a non-sustainable, non-renewable, is heavily polluting and as its not biodegradable it takes thousands of years to break down. Also, it is detrimental to wildlife that ingests it.
Notwithstanding, humans still continue to toss more than 14 million tons of this stuff into landfills every year as per the French ministry of ecology.
Lamentably, styrofoam pollution will continue to be a problem until every individual decides to “be the change” and live consciously. It’s already been estimated that 99% of birds on this planet will have plastic in their guts by 2050. This is simply unacceptable.
Fortunately, Ikea clearly agrees that polystyrene creates environmental devastation. The furniture retailer has started using the biodegradable mycelium “fungi packaging” as part of its efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling. National Post reports that Mycelium is that part of a fungus that effectively acts as its roots and grows in a mass of branched fibers, attaching itself to the soil or whatever surface it is growing on.
Ecovative, an American company is responsible for developing this new alternative to styrofoam. Named ‘Mushroom Packaging’ , it is created by letting the mycelium grow around clean agricultural waste like corn stalks or husks. In a few days, the fungus fibers bind the waste together to form a solid shape which is subsequently dried to prevent it from growing any further.
This ingenious, eco-friendly packaging is really a revolutionary invention, and Ikea is intent on utilizing.
Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea in the U.K., relayed to the press that Ikea wanted to introduce the mycelium packaging because a lot of products that conventionally come in polystyrene cannot be recycled with ease or at all.
On the other hand, this ‘Mushroom Packaging’, can be disposed of by simply throwing it in the garden where it will biodegrade within weeks.
Yarrow said, “The great thing about mycelium is you can grow it into a mould that then fits exactly. You can create bespoke packaging”.
The mushroom-based packaging was first invented in 2006 and manufactured in Troy, New York. Ecovative is already selling its product to large companies like Dell which use the packaging to cushion large computer servers, as well as, a number of companies in Britain.