'Our large-scale grow factories are truly revolutionary. We harness the power of nature - the cleanest technology on Earth, eliminating the pollution generated across the petroleum-based plastics supply chain.' - Ecovative.
Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre were classmates at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, when in 2007 they invented a new and sustainable way to use fungi for rigid, moulded materials. With help and encouragement, they set up a lab at the RPI campus after graduating. At this point, they became Ecovative, a packaging company who use mycelium, a type of fungi, to try and end our reliance on expanded polystrenes.
In 2008, they won the PICNIC Green Challenge for addressing serious climate change issues, and cashed in a giant cheque (literally) of $500,000 as a reward. This prize allowed them to expand and move into their own lab, with offices too. Six years later, and the guys have expanded even further, growing at a rate only comparable to their product!
After winning numerous awards, a commendation from Richard Branson, a customer list including Dell and Puma and beginning work on mushroom insulated housing, Ecovative could really be the new dawn for sustainable packaging. So let's tell you some more about the product.
*Neither a foam or a bioplastic
*Renewable, sustainable, natural and home-compostable
*Cost competitive compared to it's plastic counterparts EPS, EPP and EPE
*The process does not use spores
*The agricultural wastes used in the core of the packaging are clean plant byproducts, like seeds and husks.
*Instead of using 'packing peanuts', the mycelium based packaging is customly moulded to suit the customer's needs.
*Earlier this year, architects designed the Hy-Fi Tower (see bottom) using the Mushroom® packaging.
*Doesn't harm the environment!
Ecovative are heading to Tokyo in October to search for businesses who are looking to improve their corporate social responsibility by making a positive environmental and sustainable decision. CEO Eben Bayer said “Asia is a world leader in multiple industries, from designing and manufacturing high-tech products that require specialized packaging, to state of the art mushroom cultivation. We’ve had global customers asking us when we would be bringing Mushroom Packaging to Asia. We’re thrilled to be in a position now to grow global partnerships for Mushroom Packaging”.
It's an impressive product, the compostable nature allowing manufacturers to take an alternative route to using recycled plastics for a sustainable outlet. Polystyrene is a useful product in it's own right, when it comes to weight and strength. It is only 5% plastic and 95% air, and whilst it is almost 100% recycable, it is often discarded. The problem with discarding plastics is that they don't really degrade, or at least we don't know how long it will take for them to degrade because they were invented too recently for us to truly find out! Ecovative packaging means you can break the bricks and mix it with soil, and it will compost.
Check out the Hy-Fi Tower project that used Ecovative bricks in it's production.