Advantages are numerous. The material is water insoluble, flame retardant, biodegradable and a renewable resource.

“We can hold a torch to the material and it will turn black but will not burn,” Holt said. “It’s been flame tested up to 500 degrees centigrade.”

Although it’s water insoluble, it will break down when it comes in contact with soil. Holt says after a while in the soil spaces in the material open up to allow moisture to penetrate and the material to degrade into organic matter.

It’s also lightweight but strong enough to protect fragile objects. “It was the only material that withstood the crush test,” Holt said.

He’s currently consulting with a company in New York that manufactures packaging materials from gin waste mixes. The company, Ecovative, developed a technology for growing fungus (mushroom) on a biomass. Holt said USDA provides the best biomass blend, “using our experience with gin waste, to assist Ecovative to make the packaging material work for their Fortune 500 company, Steelcase.”