Wrapped in mushrooms: IKEA's packaging plan

The retail furniture giant is looking into replacing the use of polystyrene with biodegradable packaging made of mushrooms.

Swedish retail furniture firm IKEA announced last month it is looking into mushrooms-based packaging to replace polystyrene, a petrochemical-based non-biodegradable packaging material that ends up in landfills.

The news came from IKEA’s sustainability chief in the United Kingdom, Joanna Yarrow, who was speaking at a sustainability conference in London.

“A lot of products come in polystyrene, traditionally, which can’t be - or is very difficult to – recycle,” Yarrow told the Telegraph.

The Swedish firm said it was looking at companies like Ecovative Design, a United States-based startup pioneering the commercial production of the sustainable material in 2010.

While the US firm later clarified it had not been contacted by IKEA prior to the media reports, it is already supplying the materials to electronics company Dell and luxury home furnishing retailer Crate & Barrel.

As shown in this two-minute video, Ecovative produces this eco-friendly packaging by mixing agricultural waste such as corn husks with mycelium, a component of mushrooms, which binds the materials. This allows the packaging to be easily mixed with soil and decompose within weeks.

The video also looks at the manufacturing process and science behind the compostable packaging.

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