Often Referred To As Mushroom Packaging, Mycelium Packaging Is Made From Waste Organic Material & Fungal Mycelium. Discover Mushroom Magic Below.
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I’ve just received a white goods delivery and now have a large pile of polystyrene to dispose of. It can’t be composted and has top go to landfill. I’m not happy with this. Not when compostable materials exist that utilise fungal mycelium and organic waste to create waterproof, light weight and strong packaging that I could compost once it has protected my delivery. In this article I want to introduce you to Mushroom Packaging.
What is Mycelial Packaging – Mushroom Packaging?
As mentioned above it’s a mix organic waste and fungal mycelium. Some producers use specific organic products such as corn husks (maize husks) or hemp based waste. But almost any organic material can be used. Provided it will support fungal growth it will produce mycelial packaging.
One products that I especially like is wood chip. It works well with fungi and when it is composted it adds trace elements back into the soil. Arguably no more than other materials but it has the advantage of being available year around whilst the others I mention above are seasonal agricultural waste products and that has to mean either a lot of storage or seasonal production.
The Benefits of Using Mycelium Packaging Materials – Mushroom Packaging
The benefits are significant. Organic waste can be utilised, so there’s an income to be made from a waste product that would have previously cost to dispose of. So thousands of tons of waste can be up-cycled with value added to an agricultural waste product.
The product is 100% biodegradable and can be composted. It therefore has the potential to feed our plants and gardens. The other benefit being that less waste goes to landfill … remember polystyrene takes thousands of years to break down and produces micro plastics.
Mycelium based packaging is also fire resistant.
No polystyrene also means no oil has been hauled out of the ground to produce it … with all the carbon included in the pumping, fracking, refining and transport processes. Plus no oil or transport is needed to remove the packaging waste to landfill. The packaging can be composted, scattered on the garden or fed to a worm farm!
Is Mushroom (Mycelial) Packaging Cost -Effective?
Yes. And, like all new technologies, the more that is produced the cheaper it will be. Mycelial packaging is sustainable, cost-effective and good for the planet.
Is Mushroom Based Packaging a Fad or Fringe Product?
The plastics industry would like us to thing so. But when companies such as IKEA start using mushroom based packaging it’s time for the rest of the world to take notice.
Another company using mushroom technology for their packaging is Dell. This form of packing isn’t a fad. It is very mainstream and going to grow fast.
What’s the Future of Mycelium Based Products?
Let me put my futurist hat on for a minute.
How about if we grow buildings out of waste and mycelium? We could put the service pipes, solar panels, and other gadgets in the moulds and grow the “bricks” or complete rooms that slot together in a few days. If a waterproofer is added it could stand the weather in many countries and last for years. It’s easy to think this idea the product of a confused mind. But heavier than air flight was once considered impossible.
And just how comfortable would shoes moulded to our feet be? Grown to shape and injected with the right natural substances to give it strength and we could have a new pair of Jimmy Choos tailored to your feet in days.
It doesn’t stop there. How about leather made from mycelium? Biotech companies are already doing this. Making vegan leather from mycelium.
What about plastic substitutes? And what about a battery? If glass is made from sand, tank what could be made from something as complex as fungal mycelium.
Can Mycelial Packaging Be Used For Food Packaging?
Yes. If we can use petroleum based products such as polystyrene I’m sure we can find a way to use a natural product. And the great thing is it can be fed to our worm farms and contribute a second time.
How Long Does Mushroom Packaging Take To Compost?
Depending on the composting conditions, eg temperature, moisture etc, around 40-50 days is quite normal.
How Is Mushroom Packaging Made?
It’s very simple. The waste organic material is mixed with mycelium spores and put into a mould. Given the right growing conditions of correct temperature and humidity the fungal mycelium grows and binds the product together.
After a few days, usually around 5-10 days, the material is ready for the next step which is heat treatment to kills the mycelium, sterilise the material and decant it from the moulds.
Once out of the mould the product is ready for use.
Mould can be almost any intricate shape you can think of.