Unlike styrofoam, Mushroom Packaging consists of 100 percent biodegradable and renewable material that can be recycled directly in and by nature. Mushroom Packaging therefore contributes to “up-cycling” by providing new value to agricultural waste that otherwise has few other uses and low economic value.
Mushrooms are being used to grow packages
This styrofoam-like packaging material is made of fungus roots and residues from farming. After use this can be broken down in the compost at home. Using mushrooms inherent growth power, packaging can be manufactured with minimal energy use. The manufacturing process begins by mixing fungus sprouts, or mycelia, with seedlings or other residues from agriculture. Mycelet consists of a network of wire-like cells that act as a natural adhesive.
Without the need for either light, water or chemical additives, the mycelium grows by and around the residues to the desired packaging form. After one week, growth is stopped by a drying and heat treatment process. The result is a fully natural composite material that has similar material properties like synthetic foam plastics such as styrofoam.
An environmentally friendly alternative to styrofoam
Styrofoam, like many other synthetic plastics, never actually breaks down in the nature instead it contributes to contaminating land and sea. Synthetic plastics also require a lot of energy in manufacturing and cause carbon dioxide emissions as they are based on oil-based and thus non-renewable raw materials.
In cases where synthetic plastics are collected, the recycling process also requires a lot of energy due to the long polymer chains that the plastics contain. Different additives and blending of different types of plastics also means that plastic recycling often results in “down-cycling”, that is, an impure blend material with deteriorated properties and quality.
Mushroom Packaging is a gold-certified Cradle to Cradle product
Ecovative Design’s product development is compatible with Cradle to Cradle as waste materials from a process become a valuable raw material in another process. This is called “up-cycling”. Agricultural waste becomes raw material in Mushroom Packaging, which in turn is broken down into the soil and can contribute to new agricultural products.
Ecovative Design has used life cycle analysis (LCA) to develop and optimize their manufacturing systems. The original product development duo has training in both mechanical engineering and product design and innovation.
• 100 percent biodegradable and renewable material
• “Up-cycling” – waste becomes raw material
• Compostable at home
• Low energy consumption
• Low CO2 emissions