A start-up company from upstate New York that makes eco-friendly packaging materials from agricultural waste is setting up shop in eastern Iowa. Ecovative is moving into a Cedar Rapids building that’s been vacant for five years.
Company spokesman Sam Harrington says they’ll use corn stalks sourced nearby. Harrington says, “We work with local farmers to pre-purchase their corn stalks so when they’re ready to harvest their corn, now they’re getting a second value stream from what was previously considered to be a waste.”
The corn stalks are ground up and combined with mycelium, a fungus, which binds together to form a styrofoam-like substance, called myco-foam. It’s a biodegradable packing material.
Production will continue in New York, but Harrington says the new Iowa facility will greatly increase the company’s output levels, though he did not specify by how much. “We’re really thrilled about this factory,” Harrington says. “It’s the first factory, first facility for us outside of New York state, and it’s a huge milestone for Ecovative.”
The company is moving into the former Cryovac plant, which has been vacant since the parent company, Sealed Air, closed the division and laid off 250 employees about six months after the 2008 flood. Sealed Air is the sole distributor for Ecovative’s packaging materials.