Did you know that over 36 million packages are delivered every day in the United States alone? That's a lot of boxes, and a lot of packaging — unfortunately, most of it is plastic. In fact, about 40 percent of the single-use plastics that gets produced around the world is for packaging, most of it destined for exactly two trips: first to someone's doorstep, and then to the landfill.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by the scale of plastic pollution, even discouraged. But here's the thing: the solutions to these problems already exist, and that's something worth getting excited over. Solving the plastic pollution problem in packaging is what we're all about at Mushroom® Packaging.
In 2021 alone, we made over 2 million pieces of packaging from mushroom mycelium. Every one of them replaced a piece of plastic that would otherwise end up in the landfill, or the oceans, or the side of the road. And we intend to double that number again next year. In fact, we're growing fast enough that by 2032, we plan to replace over a billion pieces of styrofoam with mycelium. That's not just because we'll be making more of it — It's because people will be using more. They already are!
Ecovative's first commercial product was a material called MycoComposite, a mix of shredded leftovers of industrial hemp bound together with mycelium. It's the foundation of our Mushroom Packaging product, which is grown with minimal energy input, and a small fraction — less than 1% — of the water needed to produce a standard piece of expanded polystyrene foam.
Back in 2020 we announced a shift to focus to on the next generation of pure mycelium materials, leaving packaging to an awesome global network of MycoComposite licensees. But this year, Mushroom Packaging is back, this time as a division of Ecovative that will produce millions of pieces of packaging every year. So what changed? For one, the world seems to have woken up to the need for more sustainable packaging. During the pandemic, people were having things delivered to their homes like never before, and maybe throwing away all that packaging got people thinking about all the waste it creates. Whatever the reason, we're ready to meet the moment with proven technology and brand new facilities ready to scale up fast.
Mushroom Packaging is made with agricultural leftovers. When we add mycelium, it grows together into a lightweight, durable (and beautiful!) material. Instead of clogging up waterways or stuffing landfills, Mushroom Packaging can be tossed straight into the garden when its use is through, where it will rejoin the soil as nutrients over the course of a few weeks. It's not just a guilt-free way to ship and receive, it's also a special unboxing experience, which is why it's showing up in more places than ever.
Already, Mushroom Packaging is signing orders with a growing list of companies that want to make their operations more Earth-friendly. At the same time, a brand new 20,000 square foot facility is gearing up to meet the mushrooming demand, not just for packaging but also for our Grow It Yourself™ material. At full capacity, it'll be able to produce up to 5 million parts every year, that's over three million pounds of mycelium material. And this is just the first of many new facilities to come as we grow throughout North America and beyond, building a distributed network of facilities to deliver packaging as close as possible to our customers.
Before long, your new perfume, computer, or pair of shoes may show up protected by velvety mycelium. Instead of a pang of guilt for tossing single use plastics and foams in the kitchen garbage bin, you can feel good about letting that packaging back out into the wild. After all, that's where it came from! Led by a passionate and seasoned team of industry professionals, backed by Ecovative's mycelium technology and expertise, Mushroom Packaging is poised to make a big, positive difference in the world.
If you're looking to ship things more sustainably, head over to Mushroom Packaging's site to find out how to take advantage of their mycelium packaging solutions.