With increased awareness of environmental change in today’s business world, more and more companies are looking for innovative resources to reduce their “footprint” in any way possible. Some have started cutting down on packaging; others have redesigned their containers with recycled material. Certain companies are one step ahead of these methods and have turned to agricultural products to eliminate packaging wastes. 

Dell recently released a new mushroom packaging method for their servers. The new idea is slightly outside the regular sustainability mode of thought but is getting a lot of attention in the industry. This new packaging method calls for mushrooms to be grown within a mold to fit the server boxes they are being shipped with. This innovative idea of actually growing the packaging material for specifically sized servers is much different than the regular production and manufacturing of normal packaging materials.

Since this new packaging is naturally grown, there is a 98% energy reduction to produce the green packaging and once it has delivered the servers safely, the packaging material can just be left outside for compost. This new idea has been tested in labs and is even looking to be coupled with bamboo packaging in the future.

The only questions I have moving forward would be about some of the negative aspects of “living” packaging. How long can it last and be stored? What happens if the packaging gets wet? What other materials can be used for the same purpose? Where are we growing all of the packaging materials? These questions I am sure have been answered in some respect but I will be looking forward to see if agriculture products continue to be used by packaging companies in the future.

The new mushroom packaging method provides a great example of how agricultural products can be used in production for non-food uses. This can be recognized as a major trend in global business operations as ethanol, fuel derived from corn and other crops, is being used instead of gasoline in some companies due to high oil prices. Whether it’s mushroom packaging or corn based plastic, agricultural products are finding their way into many goods, sometimes going unnoticed. Many wonder whether the use of agricultural products for non-food consumption will cause global food prices to rise. As you can see agribusiness products play an important role in today’s global business climate and will continue to do so in the future.

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