Magical Mushroom Company (MMC), a UK-based manufacturer of Ecovative Design’s mycelium-based biodegradable Mushroom Packaging, believes that its sustainable trays represent a “seismic shift” from polystyrene. After inaugurating a first factory in the UK, three more sites are in the planning stages.
Is mycelium the pack of the future? Magical Mushroom Company (MMC), the exclusive manufacturer of US company Ecovative Design’s Mushroom Packaging technology in Europe, the UK and Ireland is betting on it. The company debuted its first production site in the UK (Esher, Surrey) in August 2020 with a capacity of 1.2 million packs per year and has a second UK site planned for this year, bringing its total annual production in the country. Factories are also in the pipeline in Italy and Bulgaria.
This sustainable alternative to polystyrene trays is the fruit of a patented process that blends mycelium (the root structure of mushrooms) with agricultural byproducts —hemp, hops, corn, or wood from the construction sector. Produced on site in “growing pods”, the mycelium composite is formed in bespoke-shaped molds, then baked to harden the material and halt the mycelium’s growth. The process, said to take just two weeks from start to finish, is comparable in cost to polystyrene, according to MMC.
Said to be 100% biodegradable within 40 days, the trays also degrade in water within 180 days — a sizeable gain compared to the... 500 years it takes for polystyrene.
At its UK site, MMC has been growing 1,000 trays a week for alcohol-free brand Seedlip and is also working with Lush and skincare brand Wildsmith among others.