Written by Mareka Tsongas, ESLLC 2015-2016
Many people are very aware of the plastic usage epidemic that we have on our hands. This problem is propelled by a huge packaging problem. Over 39% of the plastic usage is attributed to packaging. We are all guilty of frivolously ordering miscellaneous items on amazon or individually packaged candy and other products. People aren’t going to just stop buying these items so we need to change the way they are being packaged. The company Ecovative is creating innovative and sustainable materials people can use for packaging, products, furniture and more.
Their simplification of the technology is “Mycelium + Agricultural waste = Mushroom Materials”. They take mycelium, which is the mass of interwoven filamentous hyphae that forms the vegetative portion of the thallus of a fungus (commonly known as mushroom roots) and combine it with agricultural waste from regional farms. First they have to clean the agricultural waste and then introduce it to the mycelium. They bag this mixture and let the mycelium grow for a couple days. The mycelium sees the waste as food and starts to try and consume it creating a mass of fibers. It is then broken up into more particles again and put somewhere where the mycelium can grow and form a solid structure (this takes a couple days). Then the materials are dried so the mycelium stops growing then it is ready for use. This material doesn’t decompose till introduced to living organisms and moisture.
These mushroom materials are high performing, cost competitive, home compostable, rapidly renewable, custom designed and molded, not derived from petroleum or food, naturally fire resistant, VOC free, buoyant and fine-tunable to meet many needs. They have a material called “Myco Foam” which is a replacement for plastic foams. Plastic foams are products like Styrofoam. YES! We have found a replacement for the material that takes 500 years to forever to decompose! This technology is incredible and such a viable solution that is gives me hope we won’t completely drown in plastic. Next time you make a purchase maybe see what kind of packaging materials they use.
“About.” Home. Web. 26 May 2016.