Everyday thermocol and bubble wrap, which wrap your favorite dinnerware or fragile items, are non-biodegradable and remain indestructible in the environment for years, clogging sewers and the ocean.
Looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to such materials, two students from Hyderabad made packages from mushrooms. Yes, mushrooms!
Vadla Pranavi and Anupama Gambo of St Ann’s College in Mehdipatnam, Hyderabad, have come up with ‘Porcini Parcels’ packaging material made from mushroom Mycelia and agricultural waste. The proposal was chosen as part of the Youth for Social Impact program, a joint effort between the Telangana State Innovation Cell (TSIC), Department of Higher Education, Telangana, UNICEF India, Inqui-Lab Foundation, Y-Hub and YuWaah.
In an interview with News18, Pranavi said: “Our mycelium stones are completely biodegradable within 40-50 days. Mycelium is a by-product of mushroom cultivation. Our product does not need water, light or chemicals to grow. After mixing mycelia and agricultural waste, we heat it to a temperature of over 200 degrees Celsius. This takes away all the moisture and kills all mycelia, making it a stable product.”
The product is being developed for large-scale production at WeHub, India’s first state-run incubator for female entrepreneurs. There are no CO2 emissions in the production of Porcini Parcels.
Talking about how she and Pranavi developed their prototype, Anupama said, “We made mycelium stones 25*12 cm long and held a weighted 15 kg calorimeter on them. They could handle the weight. We grabbed a fragile teacup and dropped it from a height of six feet. The cup was found intact after it reached the ground.”
The stones also lower the temperature by 2-6 degrees. Therefore, they can also be used as tiles in homes.
Another important feature of such packaging is its low cost. One mycelium bed costs Rs 5. They are made from the waste of mushroom cultivation, allowing for upcycling. Prototypes of Ganesh idol, diyas, brick, pen stand and flower vase were made to demonstrate the mycelium products and their power. A cost analysis has shown that the manufacturer can achieve a profit of 400% on these products.
According to the young innovators, environmentally friendly Porcini Parcels can reduce the use of plastic in everyday life by 50%. Porcini Parcels can replace the existing plastic such as thermocol, styrofoam and bubble wrap, which will reduce the pollution load in the world.
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