30 August 2022
Mycelium is an innovative form of packaging made from fungi. As a market, mycelium was valued at $2.95 billion in 2021 and is forecasted to reach $5.49 billion by 2030 with a CAGR of 7.7%. While the current largest market is Europe, the fastest growing market is North America.
As a sustainable material that could change the way the industry creates packaging – this is a huge opportunity for businesses to have product packaging that is both aesthetically pleasing and highly ethical. As well as being lightweight and quick to produce this product is increasingly being used as an alternative to polystyrene – a dense polymer that takes hundreds of years to decompose and currently makes up 25% of all US landfill.
How Does It Work?
Mycelium is the vegetative part of fungus that acts like a root system taking in nutrients etc – however the product mycelium that is used as packaging is a bio-engineered form of hyphae. All that’s needed to grow a mycelium packaging mold is water, mushroom and agricultural waste, (hemp, wood chips, straw) it takes about 5 to 7 days to grow a full mold in a controlled environment. These molds can biodegrade in 30 to 90 days with no side-effects on the environment, because they are made from 100% natural materials they can be planted in a garden, put in compost or recycled. The part that uses the most energy in the process is the drying of the mold once it’s been formed, drying it stops the mold growing any more – the plastic molds that the mycelium grows in are washed out and reused over and over. While growing, the mycelium is placed in a dark, heat-controlled environment that doesn’t use any fossil fuels.
Is It Ethical?
Mycelium is very ethical. From process to materials, it uses 40% less water and 90% less energy than polystyrene production and is 100% biodegradable. Made from infinitely renewable natural resources, it’s about as ethical as packaging gets.
At the moment mycelium is being used by beauty brands to make beautiful and ethical packaging for their products; however it could be the way forward for many more industries who are looking for sustainable alternatives. Want to know more about alternative materials? Check out our article Top 5 Sustainable Materials: For Product Packaging