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Phoam Lab - Could this be floral foam’s successor?

The winner of Interflora’s ‘Most Sustainable Floristry Innovation Award’ held at the recent World Cup was Phoam Lab, an American company with a British beginning, aiming to bring compostable, environmentally friendly floral foam to the florist industry.

Phoam Labs Floral Foam

The background story.

Working at London florist Jane Packer in 2010, the now CEO of Phoam Lab, Dundee Butcher, was horrified at the amount of waste generated by single use floral foam. On her quest for an alternative, she was introduced to a scientist embarking on his PhD at The Center of Sustainable Polymers, Minnesota University, and the idea was born.


With florists in mind, there were four demands that Butcher made from the scientists developing this potentially industry changing new product:

  1. It must take up water.

  2. It must be completely compostable.

  3. It must be able to hold all stem types.

  4. It must be rigid.


All essential criteria for using Phoam in floristry, although it has wider uses, NASA, for example are interested in the product as they explore the possibility of using it as a medium to grow food in space.

What is Phoam made from?

Plant based, it is derived from corn which is mashed to a pulp and turned into pellets. CO² is then injected which expands the pellets and causes them to stick together, forming a natural, open cell polymer which can take up water.

The result? A block cut to the same dimensions as traditional floral foam but much lighter and less dense to the touch. And no ‘dust’ to irritate skin or eyes.


Winner at Interflora World Cup

Phoam FAQs

How quickly does it absorb water?

It takes between 45-90 seconds, but it does need to be held down, as it’s so light it floats.

What colour is it?

It is currently dyed pale green using a food grade dye, but other colours may appear in the future.


Can it be used wet or dry?

Yes, it can be used for both dried and fresh flowers.


Is it compostable?

It is plant based and fully compostable. In tests at the Composting Manufactures Alliance, 95% of it had disappeared after 10 weeks.


When can I get my hands on it?

Production begins at the end of 2023, so it should be in wholesalers from early 2024 onwards.


For more information and to sign up to updates www.phoamlabs.com


 
Su Whale

Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.


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