Renewable Matter # 2 / Numero #2

Agriculture's Second Green Life

by Sara Guerrini

Plastic materials are widely used in agriculture, to the point that they have become a distinctive feature of some landscapes. Greenhouse covers, mulching, nets, irrigating hoses, pots for floriculture, silage covers: these are only some examples of the great versatility that has made plastics a precious ally of the farmer for over 50 years. Plastic materials contribute to higher and better yields, reduce the use of chemicals and water for irrigation, and modify the crop cycle so as to meet increasing production demands by the population. However, there is a downside, both for farmers and the environment: plastics must be, at the end of the cycle, properly collected and disposed of. Sometimes this can be difficult and inconvenient, the result being that, as of today, not all the plastics used in agriculture are recovered at the end of their usage, leading to uncontrolled dispersal in the environment. For all those applications of plastics in agriculture that are based on “rapid rotation” (mulching) or are single use (supports for pheromones, mulching for multi-year crops), biodegradable materials represent an efficient alternative that respects the environment and produces zero waste.

 

Plastic Films in Agriculture: Lights and Shadows

In 2013, demand for plastic films in agriculture at a global level amounted to about 4 million tons, mainly in Asia (roughly 70%) followed by Europe (16%). Out of the...

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