Early in 2020, IKEA announced it would be replacing styrofoam with packaging that’s made from mushrooms – well, hemp chips and mycelium (multicellular mushrooms) to be exact. Made in the EU by the Paper & Carton Agency, mushroom packaging biodegrades in soil in 30 days, is easily grown in four days from abundant agricultural waste products, is competitively priced, thermally insulating, waterproof, fire resistant, produced using less energy and replaces polystyrene and other fossil-fuel reliant materials.
I’d seen this story doing the rounds on social media again recently, but as I couldn’t find anyone who had actually experienced the fungi-fillings for themselves, I decided to go straight to the source and ask IKEA – Hej? What gives?
IKEA’s design team were super quick to respond to my request.
“At IKEA, we are curious about exploring different solutions for the packaging of our products. The mycelium (mushroom) based material is one solution that we previously looked into. However, this is not currently being considered or further piloted in IKEA since it was not possible to scale the production to make it viable at industry level,” IKEA’s Press Office told me.
“The general direction for IKEA since many years is to use as much fibre-based material as possible for packaging, and we are continuously working to reduce the share of plastic, finding new ways to protect our products. For instance we have removed EPS (expanded polystyrene) from our home furnishing range (except for some kitchen appliances). The total share of plastic used for packaging is well below 10 percent – the rest is fibre-based, i.e. paper and cardboard. The long term target for plastic packaging is to only use plastic from renewable and recycled sources by 2030, and this is a journey that we are already on.”
So, definitely progress from the Scandinavian furniture chain, but it seems there just wasn’t mushroom for any fungi. (Sorry).