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.