Episode #6 - Ecovative, the mushroom packaging guys

The thing you notice when you’ve got kids is the amount of packaging that comes with their toys – and the amount of waste created at Christmas and birthday time.

The proliferation of deliveries and goods being shipped around now that we all use the internet to buy stuff, is exacerbating the problem.

But packaging is big business. A recent report says that the demand for protective packaging in America is set to grow by almost 5% a year to a $6.8 billion industry by 2019 thanks to internet shopping.

Packaging is a necessity but its clearly something that needs to be tackled.

Right now, the trend within the FMCG sector is for the light-weighting of packaging. However, making plastics and films thinner and thinner is not necessarily the answer. For one thing, it makes the packaging harder and harder to recycle, creating increasingly non-circular systems.

There’s an interesting report by Use Less Stuff says that, in fact, larger product packaging sizes are significantly more efficient than their smaller counterparts, regardless of material type.

The Body Shop’s new commitment to become the most sustainable business on the planet has an interesting specific target on packaging – to reduce the use of oil based plastic packaging by 70% by 2020. The cosmetics brand will explore a number of new academic, technology and research partnerships to pioneer new product packaging solutions, covering packaging, product design and product life extension strategies.

To kick things off it has announced a partnership with California-based Newlight Technologies to introduce AirCarbon in The Body Shop products - a thermoplastic material that behaves the same as the plastics, but rather than using oil as a carbon source for plastic, this innovation uses methane and carbon dioxide.

Packaging: it's a bit of a minefield.

The subject of this week's show – Ecovative – proves there is an environmentally sound way to create an alternative to plastic or styrofoam packaging material? It has also found a viable alternative to formaldehyde materials used in the construction industry.

Check out Eben Bayer's story – the co-founder of the business which has been slowing transforming the packaging and building materials sectors with its biomaterials – and, most notably, its mushroom materials.

Here's some pics of Eben, his co-founder partner Gavin McIntyre, and a range of products and applications (including the GYI kit Eben mentions during this week's show).

You can check out Ecovative's website here. And follow the business on Twitter, and Facebook.

A big thank you to Vikki Knowles' contribution this week...more from Viks next week. The report on predictions for the luxury sector that she mentions in her piece is here. And the Asda wonky vegs story is here.