It is seen as one of the world’s most popular plastics: airpop®  (polystyrene). Yet it may soon lose its status to an alternative option, based on mushroom cells. © Ecovative

It is seen as one of the world’s most popular plastics: airpop® (polystyrene). Yet it may soon lose its status to an alternative option, based on mushroom cells. © Ecovative

Packaging made from mushroom foam

IKEA wants to replace airpop® with organic material

  airpop® is seen as one of the world’s most popular plastics.    Foam made from airpop® (polystyrene) are a popular form of packaging, and indeed not just for computers and other hardware. This light, airy and versatile packaging material is often used by furniture manufacturers. However, the popular oil-based material may now be facing competition from an alternative option, made from mushroom cells. Clumps of sawdust-like mushroom cultures were used by an American artist as early as the 1980s for the creation of sculptures and coffee tables. Later, the idea was picked up by the US start-up company Ecovative and implemented on an industrial scale. Its founders, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre and their team have their premises in Green Island, New York, from where they supply a range of international companies with their mushroom foam. And now the furniture chain IKEA has announced that it wants to replace packaging based on fossil raw materials, with other options, particularly with biodegradable mycelium.
© Ecovative
© IKEA Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG
First it was the computer manufacturer Dell Inc. that started using organic padding to protect its servers, computers, etc. And now the Swedish company IKEA has announced that it will package its furniture in biodegradable material made from mycelium. © Ecovative / © IKEA Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG
Myco Foam is very versatile, serving as ideal packaging for shipping ceramics, bottles, furniture, monitors, printers, computers and pharmaceutical products. © Ecovative

Myco Foam is very versatile, serving as ideal packaging for shipping ceramics, bottles, furniture, monitors, printers, computers and pharmaceutical products. © Ecovative

Myco Foam: As versatile as airpop®

This airpop® replacement is based on a mixture of a pasteurised substratum consisting of agricultural waste, such as corn leaves and sawdust, and special mushroom cultures. Irrespective of the substratum, the mushrooms take just under a week to grow into the desired shape. Their growth is then stopped with a burst of heat, and the material is made germfree. Myco Foam can be used for a variety of purposes, including the shipment of ceramics, bottles, furniture, monitors, printers and computers, to name but a few.
 Photo: pre-foamed EPS beads © Schaumaplast
There are good reasons why expanded polystyrene (EPS) should be one of the most popular materials for protection and insulation purposes: it is inexpensive, light, versatile, weatherproof and long-lasting. So it now remains to be seen how this organic competitor will perform on the market. Photo: pre-foamed EPS beads © Schaumaplast
Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre – founders of Ecovative. © Ecovative
Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre – founders of Ecovative. © Ecovative
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