Dell has long been packing its computers in biodegradable mushroom and agricultural waste packaging. Soon IKEA will also pack its products in this biodegradable packaging and dispose of styrofoam
Biodegradable mushroom mycelia packaging is an innovative solution from the US company Ecovative. Which is developing new eco-friendly material as a quality alternative to styrofoam. The owner of the business, Eben Bayer, became aware of the mushroom’s building ability when, as a farm kid, he watched mycelium “glue” pieces of wood together. Later, as a fellow at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he found a solution on how to use this fungal property.
Purified agricultural waste collected from local farms mixed with mycelium and allowed to grow for several days under controlled conditions. The resulting fiber mass was then dried and thermal treatment stopped further mushroom growth. The result is a solid, reliable and fully biodegradable material. The strength of this material comes from a mycelium consisting of millions of thin fibers linked by chitin. A substance similar to that made of insect and crustacean armor. Together, they act as a kind of adhesive that binds agricultural waste into solid blocks.
Strength and resistance to mechanical damage are the reason why the American company Dell packs its servers in this packaging. Another reason is that the material, after serving the primary purpose of protecting the product during transportation, can be used for mulching plants or composting. Ikea is also considering packing its products in biodegradable mushroom packaging in the future. It is part of the initiative to completely eliminate styrofoam from use.
This innovative solution could be the answer to the growing problem of recycling styrofoam. Which has been decomposing for hundreds of years. Small and very light Styrofoam particles are a big problem because they are easily spread by the wind and often end up in nature where they are eaten or sucked in by animals. This is why there is a growing number of countries banning the production and use of styrofoam and seeking solutions like this.
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