IKEA
Swedish retail manufacturer plans on using biodegradable fungus-based packaging in a bid to go eco-friendly.Reuters

Swedish retail giant Ikea plans to use biodegradable fungus-based packaging in a bid to go eco-friendly and replace polystyrene. The 'fungi packaging' will also contribute towards reducing the waste contributed by Ikea.

"We are looking for innovative alternatives to materials, such as replacing our polystyrene packaging with mycelium - fungi packaging," said Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea in the UK. Ikea will be using Mycelium, which is more commonly known as mushroom roots.

The company behind the innovative packaging is a US-based firm called Ecovative that grows mycelium around clean agricultural waste. The mycelium over time binds the waste, like corn stalks and husks, together into a solid shape. The product is finally dried to stall further growth.

While polystyrene is hard to recycle, mycelium can simply be discarded in the backyard and it will biodegrade within a few weeks. "The great thing about mycelium is you can grow it into a mould that then fits exactly. You can create bespoke packaging," said Yarrow, reported The Telegraph.

An Ikea spokesman said the retailer hopes to turn waste into resources, "developing reverse material flows for waste materials and ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled." The spokesman added that eventually Ikea aims to reduce the use of fossil–based materials and switching to renewable and recycled materials.

Earlier in 2015, Ikea along with its non-profit arm, Ikea Foundation, pledged €1bn (£730m) to combat climate change. "Climate change is one of the biggest challenges and we need bold commitments and actions to find a solution," chief executive Peter Agnefjall said. "That's why we are going all-in to transform our business, to ensure that it is fit for the future and we can have a positive impact."