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Earthform: Sustainable Packaging and Products with Mycelium Composites Made in Korea

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) management and sustainability initiatives are gaining momentum globally. Companies are increasingly adopting alternatives to plastic, including bioplastics, reusable packaging, biodegradable seals, and eco-friendly cushioning materials. Among the new startups contributing to this shift, Korea based EARTHFORM joins the 30+ companies worldwide using mushroom mycelium in packaging and cushioning.

EARTHFORM aims to address the pervasive issue of disposable items and their associated carbon emissions by replacing styrofoam with mycelium-based materials. These materials, made from agricultural byproducts and mushroom mycelium, decompose within 50 days under normal soil conditions, leaving no harmful residues and can be used as compost.

Production Process and Environmental Benefits

EARTHFORM’s production process begins with inoculating mycelium into a mixture of agricultural byproducts such as sawdust and natural extracts. This mixture is placed in molds to grow, after which the material is dried to create a sturdy, eco-friendly product. Disposal options include composting, reusing as raw material, and minimal carbon emissions during landfill or incineration, making it environmentally friendly throughout its lifecycle. The material can also enrich the soil when disposed of in gardens.

The primary advantage of EARTHFORM’s approach is its resource circulation system. By utilizing agricultural byproducts like sawdust from dead trees, shellfish shells, potato skins, and beer residue, EARTHFORM reduces disposal costs and energy consumption. This system supports greenhouse gas reduction and addresses climate change by transforming waste into raw materials.

EARTHFORM has developed over 20 mycelium strains for various applications, offering products with diverse physical characteristics suitable for different industries. Collaborations with the Rural Development Administration and the National Institute of Forest Science in South Korea facilitate technology transfer and joint research, accelerating product development.

Market Expansion and Strategic Partnerships

As the first company in South Korea to produce mycelium-based material products, EARTHFORM has delivered 12,000 packages for a perfume brand and plans to expand its product range to include five types of cosmetic brand packages. Their materials are also being explored for use in interior design and Visual Merchandising Displays (VMD).

EARTHFORM aims to capture a significant share of the 1.3 trillion won market for eco-friendly packaging and buffering in cosmetics and small household appliances by 2026. Their business model includes providing manufacturing solutions tailored to regional needs in the B2G sector and offering customized eco-friendly packaging in the B2B sector.

The company’s push towards mass production is supported by CEO Jeong Seong-il’s extensive manufacturing experience. EARTHFORM’s processing facility can handle various materials and processes, enabling custom solutions and stable operations without external funding. Over the past year, they have completed multiple mass production runs and secured new orders.

Research and Development

EARTHFORM’s team, led by a CTO with a master’s degree in botany and over 10 years of research experience, focuses on the development of core mycelium technologies. The company has completed two patent registrations, four applications, and five technology transfers from the Rural Development Administration. They are engaged in business activities with major corporations, including joint research with Samsung Global Technology Institute, collaboration with Amorepacific Open Innovation, and projects with the SPC Research Institute. EARTHFORM has passed waste process testing standards, ROHS regulations, and biodegradability certification tests.

Investment and Future Potential

EARTHFORM is seeking investment to support its technology roadmap and business strategy. Despite limited marketing efforts, the company consistently receives production inquiries, demonstrating the potential of mycelium materials across various fields. As global regulations on eco-friendly packaging tighten, EARTHFORM’s collaborations with leading research institutions and major corporations position it for significant growth.

In summary, EARTHFORM’s innovative use of mycelium for sustainable packaging presents a viable alternative to traditional materials like styrofoam. Through strategic partnerships, rigorous research and development, and a focus on resource efficiency, EARTHFORM is well-positioned to lead in the expanding market for eco-friendly packaging solutions.


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