Posts Tagged ‘mushrooms’

Ecovative “Breaks it Down” with Mushrooms

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The majority of packaging materials are made from polystyrene and other synthetics. These materials are made from petroleum and also use up a lot of energy in the production process. Although many Americans do not take this into consideration, Ecovative Designs is a company that takes this issue quite seriously. Ecovative is currently working to develop a line of environmentally friendly packaging materials. These materials are made from mushrooms and other agricultural byproducts. The company was founded by a pair of engineers. They are not only trying to replace the traditional styrofoam packaging “peanuts” but also home insulation and kitchen counters. Sue Van Hook, Ecovative’s resident mycologist, shows that mushrooms and other fungi that grow in the wild can be adapted to grow into packaging materials. In nature, fungi’s primary role is decomposition. Break down fallen leaves and twigs so they do not overrun the forest. Ecovative is working to capture this natural process. They need less than one square centimeter of organic material to jumpstart this process. Therefore, they clone the material so it can continue to multiply as needed. Ecovative also demonstrates their value to the packaging industry by comparing a piece of plastic trash to their mushroom-based materials. The plastic takes decades to decompose while Ecovative material will vanish in 3-4 months.

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First Dell, Now Ford

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Last week we featured a blog about Dell using mushrooms for their cushions in the packaging of their servers. Well this week we will be talking about Ford. They have also decided to dabble with mushrooms. Evocative Design is an eco-start-up company specializing in the development of using mycelium to make biodegradable materials. They collaborated with Dell and now are working with Ford to develop a biodegradable foam made from mushrooms. This foam could potentially be used in bumpers, side doors, and dashboards, and will replace petroleum based foams and insulators.

This new breakthrough has allowed Ford to become a more sustainable company. Not only is the mycelium material eco-friendly, but it is also cost effective, fireproof, waterproof, and will decompose in about a month when it has reached the end of its life. Ford plans on using Evocative’s mycelium material to outfit every car in the near future. They have also started to explore other environmentally friendly options including cooked chicken feathers, algae, and wheat straw. Ford has rigorous goals to make their vehicles more green and plan on replacing 30 pounds of plastic per car.

Mold Turns Eco-Friendly

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Dell has become a company that is dedicated to finding green alternatives for their packaging. They have announced that they will be using mushrooms as part of their cushioning for their server packaging. The brilliance behind using mushrooms is they are grown, not manufactured. This allows less energy to be used to produce the packaging. Mushrooms are also more dense, meaning they can support the weight of Dell’s servers and they can be grown quickly. The end result is an eco-friendly alternative for packaging that consumers can compost. Dell has already experimented with bamboo packaging in 2009 and will combine it with the new mushroom based packaging.

The process of conducting such a sustainable creation for packaging is very interesting. It is a fairly short process, lasting between 5 and 10 days. It starts out using agricultural waste products, mainly cotton. The cotton hulls are placed in mold and then implanted with mushroom spawn. It then develops into a root structure of a mushroom. They have tested and retested this new development in sustainable packaging and will pilot run it with its PowerEdge 710 server. If this test is proven to be a success, they will expand the mushroom packaging to their other servers.

Dell has many goals in becoming a more sustainable company. They plan to eliminate 20 million pounds of packaging material by 2012 and make sure packaging is recyclable. They have made an extraordinary accomplishment by finding a green alternative for their packaging. Dell also keeps working hard everyday, looking for other ways to reduce their carbon footprint and be a more environmentally friendly company.

Going Green is Going Healthy

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Many companies are taking unique and innovative approaches to reducing the usage of plastics in their packaging. As strange as it may sound these companies have found ways to use potatoes, milk, mushrooms, and sugar cane to make their packaging more environmentally friendly.

PepsiCo’s UK brand of potato chips, Walkers, is innovating their packaging by looking for ways to use starch from unused potato peels. Starch is very sticky and when made into a large mass can become stabilized into layers. These bags will be naturally compostable and plan to hit store shelves in the U.K. in the next 18 to 24 months.

Ecovative Design has created a new packaging material that is made out of mushrooms. This new design is called Mycobond, and is heat and fire resistant. It has the ability to absorb energy and can biodegrade even in conditions that are lacking oxygen. The hope is for this material to replace petroleum based foam that is currently being used.

Got milk? Well just ask clay. Milk and clay have partnered together to be used as an alternative to Styrofoam. Scientists at Case Western Reserve University have designed a way to use clay and milk protein and make an eco-friendly packaging material. This process started by taking the cow milk protein called casein and strengthening it with some clay. The material is said to be strong enough for commercial use and a third of it biodegrades over time.

Proctor and Gamble have taken a “sweeter” approach to sustainable packaging by using sugarcane in their packaging of select Covergirl, Pantene Pro-V, and Max Factor products. The Polyethylene from sugarcane will be used in the plastic of those select products, making them easily recyclable.