Global furniture retailer IKEA are planning to use packaging made from mycelium as an environmentally friendly alternative to polystyrene. Whilst polystyrene takes thousands of years to decompose the mycelium packaging only takes a few weeks.
The ‘mushroom packaging’ is made by cultivating mycelium around agricultural waste such as corn husks and stalks, this means it also provides a disposal option for the large amounts of waste creating a more cyclical process.
The other advantage of using this type of packaging is that it can be grown in moulds to fill out exactly the correct shape perfect for the item it’s protecting.
I wonder how people might react if they know that the packaging is created from a fungus. I know, for example, some people are grossed out even by the mushrooms we eat. There seems to be a cultural aversion to fungus, likely due to it’s negative connotations with disease and mould, but I hope that we can shift as a society to becoming more comfortable with using it as a material as the benefits could be huge. After all the penicillin which is in the painkillers we all take is widely known as being derived from mould, so I’m optimistic that people will embrace mycelium products in more and more areas.
(2016) mushroom packaging Available at: https://cdn.materia.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ikea-moves-to-mushroom-based-packaging-04-600×400.jpg (Accessed/downloaded: 11/01/2017).
Gosden E. (2016) Ikea plans mushroom-based packaging as eco-friendly replacement for polystyrene Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/businessandecology/recycling/12172439/Ikea-plans-mushroom-based-packaging-as-eco-friendly-replacement-for-polystyrene.html (Accessed: 13/01/2017).
(2017) Mycelium packaging Available at: http://www.mediamatic.net/downloadattachment/232091 (Accessed: 13/01/2017).
(2017) Mushroom packaging Available at: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e0/cc/12/e0cc129220a3825406cbeaa2e08232a2.jpg (Accessed: 13/01/2017).
(2017) Ikea Available at: http://lifeathome.ch/imagecache/post_image/2014/09/IKEA_Vision.jpg (Accessed: 13/01/2017).