Friday, February 15, 2013

GMG's Friday Find: Packaging that's Grown, not Manufactured

Eben Bayer is co-founder of Ecovative, a green material science company developing an alternative to plastics using fungi and agricultural waste. In a world where less than half of all recyclables are actually recycled, and when recycled generally yield lower and lower grade materials at very high costs, a system of manufacturing that 'grows' materials is revolutionary.

Recycling is a worthy endeavor for most of us in our daily lives, and will continue to be for years to come. Now imagine a society where everything is recycled using a system with no electricity and runs forever. Forever is a very long time, but at Ecovative, it is here and now.

The material is 'grown' from agricultural byproducts and mycelium, which is a fungal network of threadlike cells. In a week or less, in the dark, with no watering, the mycelium digests the agricultural byproducts creating a beautiful structural material which can replace plastic foams, particleboard and more.

Ecovative starts with materials from the farm, parts of plants that cannot be used for food or feed.  A patented process cleans and prepares a blend of these agricultural byproducts inoculated with mycelium. The mixture is filled evenly in forms in an automated process, and then the magic happens. The mycelium mixture grows in a week without light, or watering, or petrochemical inputs and can be grown in any shape needed. At the end of the process the materials is dehydrated and heat treated to stop the growth and ensure there are no spores or allergen concerns. Uses for these eco-material products range from aerospace to fashion to gardening.

These ultra-rapid renewables may be the next packaging you purchase, and when you're done with it, it can be composted to return the nutrients back to nature.

Ecovative is committed to not just sustainability, but actually making the planet a better place for all organisms on earth.  We applaud their efforts in the 'kingdom of fungi' to grow ultra-rapid, renewable, eco-materials.

Garden Media Group