Zero Waste News: Plastic-Free Christmas & Mushroom Made Packaging

Hello!

We’ve gathered all the exciting news from the past two weeks about the state of waste to present you with our favorite stories and innovations:

UK Manufacturers and Retailers Remove Millions of Single-use Plastic Items from their Christmas Ranges

The holidays generate vast quantities of waste every year, particularly single-use plastics and non-recyclable materials. One of the great things about 2020 has been the shift in awareness and buying habits around single-use plastics and waste in general.

This year, manufacturers and retailers around the UK managed to remove millions of unnecessary single-use plastic items from their Christmas ranges! From glitter-free cards to plastic-free wrapping paper, removing plastic trays from boxes of chocolates and doing away with the plastic wrapping around Christmas puddings, the changes were many and deeply encouraging to any shopper concerned about their waste generation over the holidays.

We hope these kinds of innovations and changes will continue into 2021 and become the norm, all year round.

Mycelium – Using Mushroom Roots to Grow Biodegradable Packaging and Wood Products

Packaging in general has taken great steps towards doing away with plastic and polystyrene. One such change is the adoption of Mycelium to replace the plastic and polystyrene used when shipping goods.  

Mycelium is the vegetative root system of mushrooms, which can be grown into any shape required within 4 to 6 days. It takes less than 45 days to completely decompose in the right conditions, like those in a landfill or home compost heap.

Widespread adoption of this material has already begun, with the buy-in of big names like Ikea and Lush Cosmetics, who are already stocking and using it.  

It is also being used to replace carcinogenic binding agents and adhesives used in the wood products we use for virtually all the furniture in our homes and offices.

These wood products also utilize agricultural waste like shredded corn stems and wood chips, bound with Mycelium and grown in a mold. When it is ready, in just a few days, the molded product is placed in a heat press to kill the fungus and prevent it from growing further.

Solar Panel Window Panes from Food and Crop Waste

Despite its many, many, flaws 2020 has been a great year for innovation and invention when it comes to sustainability and waste reduction.

Carvey Ehren Maigue, a student at Mapua University, was inspired by the Northern Lights and came up with the truly genius AuREUS the solar panel window pane.

He was inspired by the Aurora Borealis or ‘Northern Lights’, where high energy particles are absorbed by luminescent particles and re-emitted as visible light. Using the same principles, he developed a resin window pane that utilizes the luminescent particles found in food and crop waste.

The AuREUS panels can capture light in cloudy conditions and from indirect sources, like the light reflected off pavements and buildings, making them more efficient than traditional solar panels. Imagine the possibilities!?

The invention has been awarded the first-ever James Dyson Sustainability Award, which will provide funding for it to go into production!

That’s all for today.

Wishing you all a magnificent 2021!

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Liza & Johanna