Ikea will start using biodegradable mycelium, “fungi packaging,” as part of its efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling. The mushroom-based packaging decomposes in a garden in a couple of weeks.
The American company, Ecovative, is responsible for developing the alternative "mushroom packaging" application, which is created by letting the mycelium grow around clean agricultural waste, such as corn stalks or husks. Over a few days, the fungus fibers bind the waste together, forming a solid shape. It is then dried to prevent it from growing any further.
The mushroom-based packaging was invented in 2006 and is manufactured in Troy, N.Y. Already, Ecovative is selling its product to large companies, including Dell, which uses the packaging to cushion large computer servers.
Why is this important?
Polystyrene—which is made from petroleum and is a non-sustainable, nonrenewable, heavily polluting and fast-disappearing commodity—is not biodegradable, and takes thousands of years to break down.
Consumers toss more than 14 million tons of the stuff into landfills every year and it’s estimated that by 2050, 99% of birds on this planet will have plastic in their guts.