Amen grows carbon-negative mycelium packaging to ship its candles

Good News Notes:

A range of candles by French brand Amen will be delivered in carbon-negative packaging made from mycelium and agricultural waste.

The brand hopes the packaging will help it tackle the hidden plastic waste associated with shipping fragile products such as candles, which often require bubble wrap or other plastics to protect them even if the outer packaging is plastic-free.

‘Our candles are sold in porcelain jars and when we sent our first delivery to a partner store in the US, half of them broke during transport,’ Amen founder Rodrigo Garcia Alvarez told Dezeen.

‘We obviously had to change our packaging but all the traditional solutions are made from plastic foam. The end customer just sees the recycled paper packaging but many brands use plastics alongside this to protect the product.’

Amen prides itself in being a sustainable luxury candle brand, which uses natural wax made from vegetable oil instead of an animal byproduct like beeswax or petroleum-derived paraffin wax.

According to Alvarez, this focus on sustainability is especially important for ephemeral products like candles, and should also be extended to the packaging, in which they are shipped.

‘I believe that an item designed for only 50 hours of use has to be much more careful in terms of its sustainability than an item that is more durable,’ he said.

‘We refuse to use packaging that takes 500 years to decompose for a candle that only burns for 50 hours.’

Amen teamed up with biotechnology start-up Grown, which helped to create The Growing Pavilion at last year’s Dutch Design Week, to fashion a cylindrical box from mycelium to hold each individual candle.

Grown uses a manual process, developed by US material science company Ecovative, that takes seven days to complete and involves mixing the mycelium with agricultural waste such as hemp and placing it into a mould.

Mycelium is the filament structure that fungi use to grow, much like the roots of a plant, which starts to feed on the waste and grow to fill the shape of the mould while binding together the surrounding material.

After five days, the substrate is removed from the mould and dehydrated to prevent it from expanding further.

‘This creates a solid packaging that remains biodegradable after use,’ said Alvarez.

‘Plus, the process of creating it is actually capturing CO2 from the environment, which makes it a packaging solution that is not just not doing bad but actively doing good.'”

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