We use many retail products every day and when we buy them they are in some kind of package which prolongs their shelf life and it is very convenient for handling the product. However, most of these products have a package that is made of plastic and we all know how bad plastic is for our environment.
Plastic is really convenient, it protects the product, it is a light and has high durable properties, but it also pollutes our planet.
According to the Ashland Food Cooperative, packaging material is about one-third of the municipal waste in the United States.
According to Harvard the high use of polystyrene present in plastic highly harms our environment as polystyrene is made from petroleum, a non-sustainable, non-renewable, and heavily polluting commodity, which on top of it is not biodegradable. In order to get broken down in nature it will need thousands of years.
Nonetheless, people still have the tendency to use plastic and every year we toss over 14 million tons of polystyrene into landfills as per the findings of the French ministry of ecology. The first to feel the negative effects of this pollution are the birds that by the year of 2050, 99% of the birds on this planet will have plastic in their guts. During the production process of petroleum a product of Styrofoam is being created which is accountable for the ongoing pollution and shows disastrous effects on the organisms that ingest it.
People, slowly but surely, are becoming aware of the negative effects of plastic, and are trying to opt for products that are with “green” packaging material. Companies are also willing to change the plastic material with a “green” one, and one of those companies is the Swedish company IKEA known for her practical furniture pieces.
One of the solutions would be mushroom-based packaging since it uses only 12% of the energy used in plastic production and it produces 90% fewer carbon emissions contrary to plastic production. This production will for sure lower the carbon emissions into the atmosphere, fight the hazardous impact of plastic wastes, protect the ecosystems on the planet and decrease the human reliance on fossil fuels.
IKEA takes part in protecting our planet and intends to use the biodegradable mycelium “fungi packaging” in order to stimulate recycling and lower the waste build-up in the world.
The mycelium is the natural replacement of the Styrofoam being the part of a fungus that acts as its roots, and it can grow in a mass of branched fibers, attaching itself to whatever surface when growing. The packaging can be easily created by allowing the mycelium to grow around clean agricultural waste such as husks and corn stalks. In just a few days, the fungus fibers bind the waste together thus acquiring a solid shape that later on is being dried to prevent its growth and production of mushrooms or spores.
It can easily turn into an eco-friendly packaging which the American company Ecovative Design already designed it and named it as the Mushroom Packaging and it is already being produced in Troy, New York.
Ecovative Design is also collaborating with other companies in order to create biodegradable packaging materials, alternative meat products, animal-free leather and many more. This new product the company offers to large companies like Dell, which uses it to cushion large computer servers.
Joanna Yarrow, the head of sustainability for IKEA in the United Kingdom reported that very soon the mycelium packaging will replace the polystyrene that has been used as a package to many products. This new package can be easily recycled and even in your own garden where it will biodegrade within weeks.
The benefit of mycelium is its ability to grow into a mould that can perfectly fit the product, and that can allow making our own packages.
Joanna adds for IKEA this was “small yet significant step towards reducing waste and conserving ecological balance.”
However, this furniture retailer does not stop here, but wants to continue the fruitful cooperation with Ecovative as the main goal of this company is the implementation of new and innovative processes that are eco-friendly containing sustainable materials.
IKEA is always open to the use of environmentally friendly alternatives. Their spokesman has stated that this company always strives to leave a positive impact on people and on our planet. Therefore, it is among the first ones that will lead in turning waste into resources, developing reverse material flows for waste materials meanwhile always using them as key parts in their products thus making them easily recycled.
This retailer is also careful about the food in IKEA restaurants and for the traditional Swedish dish of meatballs there is also a vegetarian alternative.
IKEA is probably a pioneer as a company that has reduced the use of fossil-based materials and at the same time increased the use of renewable and recycled materials.