IKEA Ditches Styrofoam for Mushroom Based Packaging

Known for its toxic impact on nature, plastic is one of the biggest environmental concerns we face today. One issue is that plastic forms so many of the containers and packaging used for retail products. Nearly half of all such packaging is plastic, in fact. While plastic does have a lot of convenient uses in that regard, it is a shame that is it so destructive to nature. 

Conversely, it is a good thing that mushrooms have so many environmental benefits, with more being uncovered all the time. Not long ago, scientists discovered a mushroom called the Pestalotiopsis microspore, which is able to digest plastic and convert it into a fungal-based food product for people to eat. 

Biodegradable packing made from mushrooms.

As it happens, mushrooms have proven to be useful once again. This time around, they have been able to act as a viable alternative to environmentally-unfriendly containers such as the ones made out of plastic or Styrofoam. These mushroom containers are made out of fungal roots and farming residues. At the start of the manufacturing process, fungus sprouts (also known as mycelium) are mixed in with seedlings and other agricultural residues. With a network of wire-like cells, it acts as a natural adhesive. 

Once the mushroom containers are no longer needed, they can be used for compost, and are otherwise fully biodegradable. The containers can decompose into nature within a timespan of one month, and are also completely harmless to any living creatures who happen to ingest them. Among other benefits, the containers also use only 12% of the energy used in plastic production, and they produce 90% less carbon emissions than plastic manufacture. 

Polystyrene for organic.

IKEA, a company that sells furniture, kitchen appliances, and home accessories, began to make use of these mushroom-based containers over the summer of 2019, even going far enough to announce that MycoComposite packaging would be replacing Styrofoam for all of the company’s products. Joanna Yarrow, IKEA’s Head of Sustainability, stated that this was, “[a] small yet significant step towards reducing waste and conserving ecological balance.” 

There are still many people to this day who are unaware of how damaging plastic and Styrofoam are. Styrofoam is made from polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic, which causes pollution by emitting greenhouse gases. It is also very harmful to any creatures who end up consuming the Styrofoam. Cows and birds especially are at high risk for ingesting it, and it is believed that by 2050, 99% of birds will have plastic inside of them. It can also be harmful to people as well. For one thing, chemicals from Styrofoam containers can contaminate the food or drinks inside, which is detrimental to human health. 

All we can do for now is continue to spread awareness, and to hope that these new methods of environmentally-safe packaging will further catch on. IKEA’s new approach and their willingness to alter their production methods is promising, and it inspires faith that others will learn to do the same. 

Peruvian Group Introduced Organic Plates Using Banana Leaves

From the past few years, numbers of scientists and researchers are working hard to find potential alternatives to the harmful plastics. The original idea is to save environmental health while protecting the well-being of individuals as well.

A group of young Peruvians recently launched a project called “Bio Plant.” This project is to help reduce the plastic crises polluting landfills and bodies of water.

The Peruvian Group, as they are referred too, have created biodegradable plates made up of banana leaves. It is a positive step in the direction of reducing the environmental pollution. These recently developed biodegradable plates can be used as a healthy replacement to the traditional plastic plates; it can further help to reduce the level of plastic waste in the oceans and landfills.

Biodegradable plates made from banana leaves.

These organic plates are capable of naturally decomposing within 60 days. Conversely, the plastic containers and the traditional dishes that are designed using polystyrene material take more than 500 years to decompose; hence, they cause potential harm to the wildlife and the marine life in the oceans.

The project leader, Josue Soto, in a recent interview, said that they are working continuously on this project. They have collaborated with a few small producers in the Peruvian region to ensure fair pricing for the development. Also, they are providing technical training for the cultivation of banana in the area.

Soup in a banana leaf bowl.

There is another group, Chuwa Plant, that is working in the same direction, but they make use of cardboard cellulose and paper to create single-use, disposable plates. These plates also provide considerable resistance to liquids, temperature, and a variety of foods.

Josue Soto also stated that they do not cut down the banana trees to obtain leaves for production; instead, they pick up the fallen leaves that break off naturally when they are fully grown.

The estimated dimension of these plates is 22 x 16 x 3 cm, and they are not carcinogenic in nature. These products are already being used in several regions of Peru, and they have provided a reliable solution to the routine needs. Many restaurants and wineries are also preferring these products in the area.