Ikea, the Swedish furniture retailer is consideration a new approach to packaging in its efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling.
The company are experimenting with using biodegradable mycelium “fungi packaging”.
We’ve all heard by now that polystyrene is devastating to the environment. But, do you know how exactly why?
A fact-sheet provided by Harvard states that polystyrene – made from petroleum (a non-renewable, heavily polluting and unsustainable commodity) – is not biodegradable. It takes thousands of years to break the substance down. What’s more, it harms wildlife that ingest it.
Although this information is widely known, according to the French ministry of ecology, over 14 million tons of polystyrene and single use plastics find their way into landfills every year.
Sadly, until their is a complete global awakening on the matter, styrofoam pollution will continue to be a major problem in our world. At our current rate, by 2050, it is estimated that 99% of birds on this planet will have plastic in their stomachs.
This is completely unacceptable. Thankfully, Swedish company Ikea clearly agrees.
Furniture retailer Ikea are very clearly aware of the environmental devastation polystyrene creates, and the responsibility they have a major company. They plan to shake up the industry and intend on using biodegradable mycelium “fungi packaging” as part of its efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling.
Mycelium are essentially the roots of the fungus. They grow in a mass of branched fibers, anchoring themselves to whatever surface the fungi is growing on.
The American company Ecovative are to thank for this potentially groundbreaking alternative to styrofoam.
“Mushroom Packaging,” as it’s called, is created when mycelium grow around clean agricultural waste (such as corn stalks or husks) and after a few days, the fungus fibers bind the waste together and form a solid shape around the mold. It is then dried to prevent any further growing.
The idea is ingenious, and has the potential to become a truly revolutionary product, one that Ikea is intent on utilizing.
In a statement relayed to the press, Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea, said that the company is looking to introduce the biodegradable packaging as a lot of their products traditionally come in polystyrene cannot be recycled.
Mushroom Packaging, is biodegradable on the other hand, and be disposed of simply by throwing it in the garden where it will break down within weeks.
“The great thing about mycelium is you can grow it into a mould that then fits exactly. You can create bespoke packaging,”
Ecovative already sell their product to large companies, including Dell who use the innovative packaging to cushion large computer servers. Ecovative is also working with a wide range of companies in Britain.
Ikea has previously launched a vegetarian alternative for their meatballs as a more eco-friendly alternative to the Swedish dish they serve in its cafes. This move wasn’t to please consumers but to reduce carbon emissions caused by supporting animal agriculture.
More companies should step up and follow Ikea’s footsteps.