How Ikea Is Replacing Their Styrofoam Packaging with Compostable Mushroom-Foam

Furniture because of it’s size, produces a lot of waste in packaging. Since everyone needs and has furniture in their homes, over the years this industry has generated a TON of waste! Ikea – who sells ~800 million cubic feet of furniture each year – is one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the world! Which means that they unfortunately produce a lot of waste.

Styrofoam packaging waste
Image Source: Greenmax Machine

Since Ikea prides themselves on sustainable living, they are leading the way for other furniture companies with this new styrofoam replacement solution: Mushroom-Foam. Also know as Mycofoam, this biodegradable alternative is made of agricultural waste products like corn, hemp husks, oat hulls and cotton burrs.

Mycofoam Bottle Packaging

These ingredients are molded into the packaging shape and then seeded with mushroom spores. These spores then sprout something called mycelium. This is the vegetative part of the mushroom that forms a web of hairlike roots that hold soil together. The mycelium acts as a binding agent for the organic material that makes up the packaging in order to make it a durable and shock resistant packaging material. This is a pretty quick process too! Which means that it’s a very scaleable product.

Image Source: British Mycological Society

Once the packaging material reaches the desired consistency, it is then heated and dried in order to stop the mycelium growth. When a customer receives their item and unpacks it, the customer can dispose of it in a number of ways without harming the environment. In fact, mycofoam is completely biodegraded in water in just a couple of weeks! So if it does end up in a lake, waterway or the ocean the fish can eat it without being harmed and it will be completely gone in a couple of weeks. These items are best to be used in a compostpile to fertilize your garden rather than disposed of in a lake or a waterway though. Here’s why:

This is a HUGE conservation win for the furniture industry! What other companies do you think could benefit from using Mushroom-Foam? Let me know in the comments below. Personally, I would love to see it in the food industry. They will just need to figure out how to handle the mushroom food allergy issue.

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