Innovative products in the packaging and insulation industries are always nice to find. One of those innovators to keep in mind is New York-based Ecovative Design.
CEO Eben Bayer says the company vision is to replace environmentally damaging synthetics like plastics and foam with cost-competitive alternatives.
Bayer’s vision statement has much appeal. Petroleum-based plastic and foam products are still used to excess in the construction and packaging industries, especially for the packaging and shipping side of the supply chain. Here untold amounts of non-compostable synthetic materials end up in landfills.
Its products and business model bear closer inspection. Its biodegradable packaging product, called the Ecocradle, is made from plant seed husks and mushroom roots. Yesterday, Ecocradle won the Diamond Award at the 23rd DuPont Packaging Awards.
Not only does Ecovative produce sustainable packaging, it manufactures Greensulate, the world’s first sustainable rigid board insulation.
The company states that almost all rigid board insulation is made from petrochemicals, creating significant carbon dioxide emissions during production. The alternative, Greensulate, is grown, not manufactured. “We use a growing organism to transform agricultural byproducts, like cotton-seed hulls and buck-wheat hulls, into a beautiful protective package.”
This May Ecovative announced that a group including 3M (through its 3M New Ventures business), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and DOEN Foundation had invested in the company in order to scale Ecovative’s manufacturing operations and accelerate the development of its revolutionary, grown polymeric materials.
At the EPA’s recent 2010 Small Business Environmental Conference, Administrator Lisa Jackson praised the work of Ecovative Design: “We also see innovative products like Greensulate from Ecovative Design in New York. Greensulate is a natural form of insulation made from locally grown materials. They use rice hulls from the Midwest, or cotton burrs from the South – keeping costs and transportation emissions down. Unlike most insulation that gives off significant CO2 emissions during production, Greensulate is organically grown, not manufactured.
“These are the kinds of innovations that have allowed us to grow our economy and protect our environment.”
Greensulate is safe to touch and can be installed without any special safety gear. Additionally, Greensulate is free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), while still boasting a Class 1 fire rating. As for installation, the product can be cut using normal woodworking tools.
Ecovative prides itself in creating cost-competitive alternatives to synthetics like foams and plastics. “We believe you can achieve sustainability without sacrificing performance or affordability,” the company claims.
PHOTO: Ecovative Design: http://www.mushroompackaging.com/
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