MYCELIUM PACKAGING

Jamie Schwartz – UNI: js5849

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  1. Sustainability Problem: Waste
    • Plastics are polluting the planet because they are not biodegradable
    • Mycelium based packaging functions as a biodegradable alternative to oil based plastics
  2. Article Summary: https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/mushroom-fungi-packaging-ikea-decompose-ecovative/
    • New York based company, Evocative, has created technology for “Mushroom Packaging” based on adding mycelium to agricultural waste products, and from the bond created, a moldable structure is formed to create a packaging alternative to plastic
    • Unlike current plastic packaging, which is single use and not biodegradable, Mushroom Packaging can be added to compost to decompose while adding nutritional value to the soil
    • Ikea and Dell have adopted this technology as they realize the challenges with recycling their current packaging and prefer the planet friendly alternative
  3. Organizational Stakeholders:
    • Evocative – producer of the mycelium based technology
    • “Traditional” plastic based packaging producers
    • Ikea, Dell, and any other businesses that choose to opt for Mushroom Packaging over the prevalent plastic based options
    • Consumers voting with their Dollars by seeking out companies that use environmentally friendly packaging
  4. Deployment/Implementation of Technology**:
    • Increase scale to reduce costs
    • Seek out companies with shared values for environmental conservation
    • Sell them Mushroom Packaging to replace plastic based option

**The technology has already been on the market, but full scale adoption is still lagging, likely due to high price point. From checking the Evocative website, it looks like a single wine bottle insert costs $10. That is cost is far too high to see wide spread adoption within the wine world. However, members of wine community would certainly like to embrace environmentally friendly packaging, if it became more affordable. This is anecdotal, and would be happy to expand further in conversation, if anyone is curious.**

5 thoughts on “MYCELIUM PACKAGING

  1. Ben Carroll (bc2927)
    Hi Jamie, great article! I had no idea that you could make packaging out of Mycelium. In sustainability, you typically hear Mycelium being used for the process of growing mushrooms (would love to talk about this sometime), but it is great to hear of its bonding capabilities. It is a also a great idea since the mycelium packaging is lightweight, durable, and flame-retardant. Your point about its high price is very important- I wonder how manufactures can decrease this and whether the product is scalable. I also am interested to learn of how long this product can last, how long it takes to make, and under what conditions it may degrade in.

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    • It’s pretty mind-blowing, right!? I can’t remember if it is in the video attached at the end of the article, or on the Evocative website, but the process seems to take them at least a week. I can’t recall how long it takes for the mycelium to bond with the agricultural product, but once that has begun they set them in molds for about 5 days. From there, they are dried so that they will not degrade while they are functioning as packaging. Unclear how long they take to degrade once you compost, I think the recommend spraying with water at that point?

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      • Super interesting! Thank you for the clarification. Hopefully this type of packaging will be used more widely in the future.

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  2. This is sick. But I have some questions, after poking around their website. Most of the photos I saw were either staged end-products or materials/workers in a warehouse/facility, which makes me question whether the “making” of the product occurs out in the fields or under certain (industrial) conditions. I believe it is the latter, but I feel like the product reads as if this is all done outside. Probably me being optimistic that we are utilizing our sun!

    Likely the price is driven by the inputs (water, energy, time, etc.), which brings into question the “embedded” carbon to make the mycelium-bound agricultural byproducts. Would be interesting to dig into their energy consumption vs manufacturing of plastic.

    The site also says that the packaging relies on soil microbes to break it down, so I wonder what happens to the product if it is rehydrated (or makes it way to the ocean).

    All that being said, thank you for sharing Jaime – super cool.

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    • Some good questions! The first thing that comes to mind is that mushroom cultivation tends to be in cool/damp/dark places, so indoor production does actually make sense there. I am definitely no expert here, but when we were serving a mushroom dish at EMP, we had to use cultivated mushrooms rather than foraged, because we needed a consistent supply. And, they were grown indoors in a controlled environment, and the family were in Hazmat suits, it looked like ET, pretty wild stuff! Check out “Primordia Farm” on IG if you’re curious. Always happy to discuss shrooms further!

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