Date of this Version
Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2020.
This study focuses on fungal mycelium-based packaging as a biodegradable replacement of polystyrene packaging. In this thesis project, there will be a thorough study of the characteristics of fungal mycelium and how it can be combined with other products to create biodegradable packaging. Polystyrene packaging is unsustainable and poses threats to human health and our natural environments. It is pivotal that alternative packaging options for polystyrene are researched and tested to prove reliability as packaging systems develop. Research questions answered in this thesis include: Can fungal mycelium be a biodegradable replacement for plastic/polystyrene packaging at a large scale? What is the longevity of fungal mycelium? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? How does humidity affect the growth/creation of mycelium-based products? What are the optimal growing conditions for fungal mycelium? What have other studies found out about fungal mycelium? Objectives of this experiment are to determine the effectiveness of fungal mycelium blended with hemp and to determine whether it can be a replacement for polystyrene packaging on a large scale. This thesis paper is structured into five sections: 1) Introduction, covering background of polystyrene and continuing to introduce the concept of fungal mycelium; 2) Methods and Materials, covering the instruments and methodology process of the experiment; 3) Experiment, testing the properties of fungal mycelium and polystyrene; 4) Results and Discussion, assessing the effectiveness of mycelium as a packaging product agent; 5) Conclusion, discussing the likelihood of implementation and potential of mycelium. Overall, mycelium offers viable, affordable alternatives for polystyrene packaging on a global scale. For a biodegradable packaging transition to occur, research grants and governmental investments are required for scientists and researchers to continue their work.