The multinational Swedish conglomerate that is notorious for its ready-to-assemble furniture is looking to replace its traditional polystyrene packaging with a more sustainable solution--Mushroom Packaging made from mycelium fibers.
The innovative packaging, which is produced by New York-based company Ecovative, is actually grown using agricultural waste, such as corn husks. To create specific packaging needs, the company lets the fungal mycelium feed off of the agricultural waste, spreading as it consumes more and more of it until, eventually, they have enough to fill the specific molds needed for certain products.
Once the mycelium hardens in its mold, it can then be used as packaging.
“A lot of products come in polystyrene, traditionally, which can’t be – or is very difficult to – recycle. The great thing about mycelium is you can grow it into a mold that then fits exactly. You can create bespoke packaging,” said Joanna Yarrow, IKEA’s head of sustainability in the UK.
This is a huge win for the environment, considering polystyrene takes thousands of years to fully decompose. This new Mushroom Packaging starts to decompose just a few short weeks after leaving it outside in your backyard.
Ecovative describes their new packaging as being similar to any piece of wooden furniture that you have in your home. As long as it’s in your home, dry and protected from the elements, it will remain sturdy. But, should you leave it outside, it will quickly begin to break down and decompose.
IKEA has not officially confirmed that they will be utilizing Ecovative’s new Mushroom Packaging, but they have stated that they are working on becoming a more sustainable company.
“IKEA wants to have a positive impact on people and planet, which includes taking a lead in turning waste into resources, developing reverse material flows for waste materials, and ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled,” said a spokesperson.
“IKEA has committed to take a lead in reducing its use of fossil-based materials while increasing its use of renewable and recycled materials.”
Expect to see more packaging similar to Mushroom Packaging in the near future, as companies like Dell have already began using it to ship larger computer parts, some weighing upwards of 200 pounds.
How cool is that?