Growing your own packaging? You Mush be joking!
They say money doesn’t grow on trees … but what if the secret to the future of sustainable packaging could be grown from fungus?
Yes really! I know what you’re thinking … have we gone a little bit Alice & Wonderland?
This Christmas we received a beautiful natural skincare set but what was even more delightful was the box and package itself. Raw, beautiful and an subtle unspoken elevation of the eco credentials of the skincare brand, the packaging was the real show stopper. But more than this it was durable, strong, protective of glass and with enough buoyancy to withstand impact of travel.
But when we discovered it had been grown from Mushrooms we simply had to find out more!
It feels, operates and looks like Styrofoam without the nasties. It uses fungus sprouts or mycelia and natural biproduct waste from farming like seedlings, hemp etc and then cleverly tapping into Mushrooms super power ability to grow rapidly. Like a spiders web the mushroom cells grow quickly and naturally bond together which the mixture. It grows around the shapes formed by the natural mixture which can be shaped to suit the desired packaging. The coolest thing? No light, water, chemicals or additives are needed! One week later the packaging has “grown” and the process halted by heating and drying. It’s a perfect example of cradle to cradle production.
Here’s the goodies:
- 100% biodegradable and renewable material
- Up cycling agricultural waste and turning it into raw materials
- Home composting
- Low energy to produce
- Low CO2 emissions
- Can be licensed from https://mushroompackaging.com which is fully certified.
The bad? Well I guess if you don’t like mushrooms! But in all seriousness the availability and cost is the only draw currently. This is because the process isn’t widely available but the more demand to adopt this method and educate on this positive solution means over time the costs will decrease.
This reminded us of a wonderful sustainability panel we attended with Finisterre a few years ago and a possible solution for small, eco conscious businesses and individuals wanting to be early adopters of the sustainable innovation but the cost is prohibitive. They made us remember the importance of community and collaboration in changing the world.
Finisterre have been pioneering Leave No Trace Packaging in partnership with Aqua Pak. As the brand of choice for surfers, sea lovers and adventurers it makes sense that Finisterre looked to the sea for answers. Aquapak is essentially packaging you can “disappear” down your sink with kettle boiled water and it breaks down.
Woah woah woah I know what you’re thinking … the turtles!! The fish! The marine Life! Well its perfectly safe (We even heard the founder at a presentation gulped the water solution left behind from a cup!)
Heres how it works in their own words:
Our Leave No Trace bags are made from a specially formulated polymer resin using Polyvinylalcohol (PVOH). PVOH is still a polymer, but the major differentiator from traditional plastics is that the material is hydrophilic (i.e. it loves water). This means it breaks down quickly in the marine environment without attracting other toxins or forming microplastics, as traditional polymers would.
It has been thoroughly tested and found to be non-toxic to marine species, breaking down into water, carbon dioxide and ‘mineralised biomass’; a natural biological breakdown step of the carbon in the material into carbon dioxide and water.
As the material degrades, smaller oxidised polymer chains are formed that eventually break down to carbon dioxide and water. The material does not form toxic microplastics or yield any harmful products at any stage of the breakdown and biodegradation process. The ink used is also non-toxic and food-safe, so there are no nasty chemicals produced as the bag breaks down.
No more landfill!
Finisterre are actively sharing this technology and inviting people to come on board with Aqua Pak to make it a staple and reduce costs for all. A real win win.
This is a really hopeful article in circular packaging solutions. And it turns out the answers were in nature all along.