There are many types of packing materials on the market today, but Ecovative Design LLC's trademarked EcoCradle Mushroom Packaging probably is the only one that's grown rather than manufactured. The product is made from agricultural crop waste bonded together with mycelium, or "mushroom roots." According to the company's website (www.mushroompackaging.com, appropriately enough), the mycelium acts like a glue to bond agricultural byproducts together into a rigid material. The material, which is designed to replace petrochemical-based foam, typically requires four to 10 days to form in custom-designed "grow trays." (Says Ecovative: "At the end of our process, the materials are just as dead as a cardboard box, so you don't have to worry about mushrooms sprouting from it or anything like that.")
Companies like Dell and Steelcase are already using EcoCradle to protect their products in transit. Now, the unique material will move onto the world stage, thanks to a new deal between Ecovative and packaging powerhouse Sealed Air Corp., maker of Bubble Wrap brand cushioning and Cryovac brand food-packaging solutions. Sealed Air and Ecovative will work together to accelerate the production, sales, and distribution worldwide of EcoCradle Mushroom Packaging.
The partnership appears to be a good fit for Sealed Air, which continues to seek ways to reduce the environmental impact of its own products. For example, the company manufactures all of its paper filler materials exclusively from post-industrial and post-consumer waste at three of its processing plants.