The way in which the things we buy are packaged is becoming an increasing issue as we look to reduce plastics in the environment and find products that are easy to recycle or compost. A company called Ecovative(ecovativedesign.com) has created a type of packaging made from agricultural waste and the root systems of mushrooms called mycelium.
They do this by collecting the agricultural waste such as corn husks which are then cleaned, the mycelium is then added and this begins to digest the waste and it then the roots bind it all together. This mixture is then broken up and placed into moulds, that are the size and shapes of the packaging required.This mixture is then is left to grow into the mould. Once removed and dried, which stops the production of mushroom spores, it has become a biodegradable, strong type of packaging that can be used for all sorts of products. The whole process takes about a week and it has been found that different types of mushroom root systems produce different strengths of packaging.
There is a huge positive impact of producing packaging in this way, it can reduce carbon emissions as it reuses a waste product and in growing packaging it uses much less energy that in plastic production. This packaging can also be composted or shredded, as it breaks down easily so will not linger in our seas and in our land fills as plastic currently does. It currently takes just 30 - 90 days for this type of packaging to compost.
Large companies such as Ikea are looking at using this type of packaging in order to limit its use of plastics and polystyrene. It could be a very positive step forward as we look to stop the environmental impact of the use of plastics in all that we buy and the limits we often find when trying to recycle certain types of packaging.