Your new laptop will ship in packaging that's alive (sort of)

Your new laptop will ship in packaging that's alive (sort of)

Summary: Your next big-screen television or laptop may ship in packaging that's, well, alive. (Sort of.)

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The next big-screen television or laptop you order may not arrive in a cardboard box stuffed with Styrofoam cubes.

Instead, it might ship in packaging that's, well, alive. (At least during production.)

Over at our sister site SmartPlanet, the chief executive of Ecovative Design describes a product that won't sit in a landfill for thousands of years once you toss it in the trash.

It's called EcoCradle, and despite the happy green name, it's a savvy way for companies to engineer better packaging for their gadgets -- without the downstream side effects. The product is made from mycelium, derived from mushrooms, and it's strong enough to keep your new toy safe without sticking around longer than the tech manufacturer that made it.

Now, the company's looking toward bigger and better applications, such as automobiles, office furniture and wine. If it's good enough for a bottle of Barolo, it's good enough for a Samsung plasma TV, right?

Ecovative: The new plastic is made from mushrooms [SmartPlanet]

Update: Ecovative environmental director Sam Harrington reached out to reassure folks about the "living" aspect. He writes: "The last step of our manufacturing process for EcoCradle is to stop the growth (kill it) so it's not actually alive when it is used as packaging. It is alive and grows during manufacturing however. This is important, because it won't ever grow into your product, sprout mushrooms, or produce spores."

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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9 comments
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  • Just Imagine the Warranty Calls

    "Sorry, you aren't covered under warranty because the product sat on the shelf too long and the packaging expired."
    "How come there's mushrooms growing inside my TV?"
    I like the idea, but I sense a potential repeat of what happened when Ford tried to stuff their car seats with Spanish moss. (They didn't realize its keep growing, even without water)
    TBone2k
  • RE: Your new laptop will ship in packaging that's alive

    The packaging is not actually alive when it is used to ship products, but it is grown to form the correct shape. Once it is produced, it is totally inert, there won't be any "mushrooms" growing in your TV.
    swerz
  • RE: Your new laptop will ship in packaging that's alive

    According to the manufacturer's website at http://www.ecovativedesign.com the stuff is a mixture of mushroom mycelium (the fungal threads left behind in compost after mushrooms have been harvested) and "seed hulls" (bran?) They're casting the stuff into a foamlike sponge, probably resembling a ricecake in texture, with the promise they can adjust the density and tear strength of the sponge by changing up the seed-hull component.

    They talk about how the mycelium is "as strong as concrete" but come to think of it uncooked spaghetti is as a strong as concrete too -- one of those fun facts that stick with you from college.
    John_Turner
  • RE: Your new laptop will ship in packaging that's alive

    First thing that popped into my mind was, this would be a much better use for tofu than eating it! Probably too heavy due to water content though! 8-(
    leopards
    • RE: Your new laptop will ship in packaging that's alive

      @leopards If you don't like tofu it's because you're not preparing it properly. Period. I don't really blame you though. A lot of "recipes" I see are just disasters waiting to happen.
      Aerowind
  • Sigh. Things last a long time in landfills because they

    are buried and are not exposed to air and weathering agents. A newspaper in a landfill sticks around for something like 100 years. We've pulled bodies out of bogs that have lain mostly undecomposed for hundreds of years.
    fr_gough
    • RE: Your new laptop will ship in packaging that's alive

      @frgough@... Not that seed hulls would decompose very quickly in the best of circumstances, either.
      Having said that the humour of the idea ran away with me. Sorry.
      TBone2k
  • RE: Your new laptop will ship in packaging that's alive

    Sounds good to me.
    james347
  • RE: Your new laptop will ship in packaging that's alive

    I looked it up.
    Seems that it would be good for my compost pile.
    MoeFugger