Many of the things we buy arrive at our doorstep safely packaged in expanded polystyrene. It protects our new TV set against transit damage, it is light and cheap - but an utter disaster from an environmental perspective. Mineral-oil-based foams make up one-third of the world's waste by volume, take decades to break down, and the resulting microplastics will pollute our environment for thousands of years. There have been many attempts to develop a sustainable alternative, but none of them has been scalable. Until now.
Packaging made from mycelium rather than expanded polystyrene
myrobez, a young three-person team, has not merely succeeded in developing a biofoam. Thanks to their production method and the characteristics of this fungal packaging material, their ability to compete against expanded polystyrene on the mass market looks promising in terms of quality and price. With the support of the Migros Pioneer Fund, the Basel-based start-up now aims to revolutionise packaging.
The biofoam created by mycrobez is based on fungal root systems (mycorrhizae) and various biological waste products. It is 100% biodegradable and can be disposed of in your back garden or outdoors in general, where it actually restores damaged soil. Put simply, the product is made by seeding organic waste with fungal spores that grow through the raw material in just a few days. This turns into a mycelium-composite mass. It is then transferred to a suitably shaped mould, where it continues to grow. The mould fills out in a matter of days and is then baked, leaving the finished packaging.
A pioneering facility for mass production
The team is currently building a custom pilot plant. Together with partners from the pharmaceutical industry, the product is being optimised to satisfy a range of criteria and the production process is being geared up for mass production.
mycrobez' goal is to replace mineral-oil-based polymers such as polystyrene by making mycelium composite on an industrial scale, establishing a new and sustainable packaging standard.
Find out more about this Migros community involvement initiative - perhaps it's just what you're looking for?
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