Eco-Friendly

Ikea plans eco-friendly boxes made from mushrooms

Ikea plans to replace its polystyrene packaging with eco-friendly boxes made from mushrooms, it has been reported.

Green-thinking bosses at the Swedish furniture giant are said to be looking into introducing the biodegradable alternative as part of a series of changes designed to improve sustainability.

The so-called 'fungi packaging' is made by US-based firm Ecovative using mycelium, the unseen part of a mushroom made up of millions of tiny fibres.

Pioneering: An example of the made-to-measure 'fungi packaging' created by US-based company Ecovative

Ecologically, mycelium’s function is to break down waste. The process causes it to secrete enzymes and proteins which can act as a glue to bond items together into a solid shape.

As it is 'growing' mycelium can be manipulated into a range of sizes and densities, much like plastic, making it ideal for containers and packaging.

Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea in the UK, told the Daily Telegraph the company was looking into the material because 'a lot of products come in polystyrene, traditionally, which can't be - or is very difficult to – recycle'.

In contrast mushroom packaging can naturally biodegrade in just a few weeks. 

An Ikea spokesman confirmed to the newspaper that mycelium is one of the materials it is looking into using but that it is not currently used in production. 

The Swedish firm has promised it will adopt a series of changes by 2020 that will boost communities and the environment.

 

Green-thinking: Ikea has promised it will adopt a series of changes by 2020 that will boost the environment

Two of which include plans to invest £755million into renewable energy for poor communities and also ensuring all of the energy used in its branches comes from clean sources.

This idea of living more sustainably and protecting the planet has even influenced the menu in its restaurants, particularly the much-loved meatballs.

The company is now offering a vegetarian alternative to meat, production of which is associated with greenhouse gases. 

Mycelium is already used by a number of companies around the world. Ecovative already supplies mushroom packaging to Dell computers called EcoCradle, which acts as a subsitute for polystyrene. 

Founders Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer have previously built a 'self-fixing' house using the material and have said cars could one day be built with mushroom parts. 

Kraft Paper

Kraft paper is a 100% biodegradable natural product. The pulp is made from long virgin fibres of maritime pine and is not bleached, to ensure minimum chemical processing and to retain the wood's natural colour.

Kraft paper biodegrades entirely naturally. Just like the leaves from the trees, kraft paper decomposes naturally within a few weeks, returning to its initial form of cellulose fibres, which can be fully assimilated back into its original natural environment, with no adverse impact on nature or human health.

Kraft paper weight to thickness comparison chart.

Paper Weight (pounds)

Thickness (inches)

30

.003

40

.004

50

.005

60

.006

70

.007

click on the link below to view our online catalog

http://catalog.gti-inc.com/CatalogSearch.aspx?Value=kraft+paper&Type=Description

What's the Least Biodegradable Form of Packaging?

Biodegradable packaging

Today’s world has created a new generation of packaging materials that are focused on eco-friendliness and recyclability. The reality is that most products that you can use for packing today are going to be recyclable to some extent. However, there are still forms of packing materials out there that are not as friendly and that will take forever to biodegrade. Even with all of the recent advancements in technology, there are products that are going to be the worst to use for packing in terms of biodegradability, and you should be aware of them so that you can reduce your impact successfully.

Even with recyclable materials and improvements in eco-friendly packaging, plastic still remains the least biodegradable product that you can buy. There are plastics that are recyclable and biodegradable, of course, but they have to be disposed of properly. In the event that these products are simply sent to the landfill, they will still take years and years to completely degrade and become a part of the earth. Paper and cardboard packaging supplies are much more biodegradable and eco-friendly regardless of how they are handled. If you are truly in need of plastic or other chemical-based packing materials for your shipments, you should ensure that you use them sparingly and recycle them accordingly to get the most out of your packing and shipping.

Plastics have always been a constant source of debate. While air bags and plastic materials used for packaging are a great way to protect shipments and keep things safe, they are also going to take up valuable space in landfills and won’t break down as quickly as other materials that are available for packaging in today’s world. It’s always important to think about what you are shipping and which materials will be the most protective as well as the most eco-friendly so that you can reduce your impact on the planet.

With so many different packaging materials out there to choose from, it isn’t difficult for you to find materials that will suit your needs. Whether you need a lot of materials to protect your items or just something unique that allows your items to stand out, you can find plenty of solutions that are eco-friendly and biodegradable. If you are going to use plastic, make sure that it can be discarded accordingly or that it has a high biodegradability so that you aren’t using materials that are harmful to the environment.

When a Box is Not a Box

The corrugated carton is not just a box.  Believe it or not, a lot of design and engineering goes into each corrugated box that we sell.  Not only is the size, shape, weight and durability of the product to be packaged important but so are the shipping and storage environments the product and its associated box are likely to experience.  As time goes on, we’ll be touching on these and other subjects related to boxes, box design and packaging in general.  In the meantime, we’ve put together a list of corrugated box facts that should put to rest the idea that a box is just a box…

  • A box that is palletized should not be in the shape of a cube.  But when palletizing a cube may be a better choice.
  • Heavy duty reinforced paper tape is a better box closure than staples.
  • A variety of coatings can be applied to either side of a box.
  • Sometimes ordering only a few more boxes will save a goodly percentage in your piece price.
  • An “end loader” uses less board that a “top loader”.
  • DO NOT store your boxes near a heat source.
  • Flat bed die cutting is more precise than rotary die cutting.
  • Some military grades of corrugated are readily available.
  • The best use of corrugated material as a RSC (Regular Slotted Container) is when the ratio of length x width x depth is 2-to-1-to-2.
  • Place your printing no closer than a 1/2″ to the horizontal score lines.
  • Manufacturer’s Joint: Tape is the weakest joint.  A “flowable” product probably requires wire stitches.  Glued joints are the least expensive.
  • Boxes are made out of paper.  Paper reacts to the moisture level in it’s surrounding environment.  Low humidity levels will dry the paper, making it feel stiffer and thus stronger.  High humidity levels will make the paper feel softer and thus weaker.
  • Advancements in technology have led to the creation of large-format digital presses that are ideal for 4 color, small quantity runs of corrugated cartons and displays

Water Activated Tapes Vs. Plastic Carton Sealing Tapes

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The Advantages of Plastic Tape

Pressure sensitive, plastic tape has several advantages that include:

• Can be very inexpensive, but usually you get what you pay for, so be careful with any tape pricing that is too good to be true.

• Convenient and simple to use – no water or expensive dispenser required. In fact, many plastic tape suppliers provide free hand dispensers with the purchase of their tape which typically does not indicate either product is of decent quality.

• Portable – a true advantage compared to reinforced paper, water activated tape (WAT). You can seal boxes anywhere.

• Automatable – high speed case sealing equipment that uses pressure sensitive plastic tape is readily available.

The Advantages of Water Activated Tape It’s greener!

For eco minded customers committed to sustainability our recommendation is almost always to use WAT, reinforced paper tape. It is made of paper which is a natural, renewable product, and the adhesive is natural as well. That means it can be recycled and re-pulped along with the boxes it is adhered to, without any time consuming stripping.

It also ranks much higher on the eco obvious scale which simply means people easily recognize it as a green product, especially compared to plastic tape. It is the “eco consistent” way to seal your green boxes, filled with green products for your green minded customers.

It’s more effective!

Simply put, WAT does a better job. The adhesive on WAT is not only natural; it also bonds to a corrugated box better, especially if the box is under-filled. We have all seen cases where tape is virtually suspended over the box flaps and is not making any real contact with either major case flap. That is not good for many reasons, including pilferage, damage and even infestation.

When asked about the strength of paper tape I always point to two industries – printing and hardware. They pack some of the heaviest boxes ever filled and those industries continued using paper tape long after others shifted to plastic tape, primarily for economic or convenience reason. The printing and hardware industries today continue to use reinforced paper WAT because they have less damage claims and far fewer complaints.

An Application Analysis Is Always Recommended

Regardless of what box sealing tape you currently use we don’t suggest change without a complete review of your usage and if necessary, testing. What you pack, how you pack it, and even where you pack your boxes can influence what product is truly best for you.