Gary: Have you ever gotten a giant package only to dig through all the packing junk to find a tiny item inside. And all that junk has to go somewhere. Americans throw away close to 250 million tons of trash a year. About one-third an average landfill is made up of packaging material! A lot of that is plastic and polystyrene, or Styrofoam, which aren’t biodegradable, meaning they are not capable of naturally breaking down. It is estimated that it can take 500 years for polystyrene to decompose. Styrofoam and plastics are filling up our landfills, polluting our oceans and, some say, exposing us to toxic chemicals. Ecovative is hoping to help change that.
Ecovative is a new bio materials company that is growing a replacement for expanded foam, such as styrofoam. Ecovative was started back in 2007 when Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre were in college. Gavin was walking through the woods and noticed that mycellium, or mushroom roots, were growing and bonding wood chips together, and that sparked an idea!
“We grew the first test specimen under our beds in our dorm rooms, and had it tested at third party labs.”
Gary: They figured out how to use the mushroom fungus like glue to bond together other organic waste and shape it into the forms for packaging.
“We can use agricultural waste from all across the country, and it could be anything from rice hulls or oat hulls, even hazelnut husks and lobster shells, which we’ve used in the past, too.
Gary: And these materials biodegrade and don’t run-out, unlike Styrofoam products that are made with petroleum, a fossil fuel and a source of energy.
The other side of it is all these foams and plastics, 10% of all the petroleum imported into our country today, is actually used for the production of materials, and these are finite resources which are better suited to fuel our cars and heat our homes.
So far, huge companies like Puma, Dell computers, Steel Case furniture and Crate and Barrel are using their product. And they have even struck a partnership with Sealed Air Corp, the company known for bubble wrap.
Why is it important — or should I say — is it important, that we have eco friendly packaging?
“Young people today are inheriting the Earth that former individuals have basically left to them.”
Gary: Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.
Josh: Thanks, Gary!
Now, it is time for the Next Big Thing and Gary just told you what it was! What do you reckon? Is bio-packaging going to be the next big thing?