Oxo-biodegradable plastic in agriculture

For many years farmers and growers have used plastic sheets to wrap silage, protect their crops and inhibit weeds. they have three alternatives.

1 – Ordinary plastic:  After the harvest, many hectares of soiled plastic have to be hauled off the fields and disposed of.  As they have been exposed to sunlight for many months they will probably have become brittle and unsuitable for recycling, and will scatter fragments in the wind while they are being hauled off the fields.  Even if they are still suitable, it is expensive to transport along country lanes in large vehicles, and to wash, and reprocess this plastic, so it makes no sense in economic or environmental terms. It cannot be burned, so the farmer has to dispose of it somewhere on the farm.

2 – Bio-based plastic:  This is much more expensive, tears easily and cannot be recycled.  It cannot be programmed to be serviceable for the length of time required by the farmer.

3 – Oxo-biodegradable plastic. This is as strong as ordinary plastic and costs little or no more to produce. By adjusting the balance between actives and stabilisers in the masterbatch it can be programmed to be serviceable for the length of time required by the farmer.  After the harvest it will have become biodegradable and can be ploughed into the field, where it will be a source of carbon for next year’s plants. Symphony have done successful trials on a farm in Wales with film made with their d2w masterbatch https://www.biodeg.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Pembroke-Mulch-Film-Trial-Report-30.09.13V1.pdf

Oxo-biodegradable plastics have been used as protective films in agriculture in many countries (including USA, China, Japan and the EU). They are applied to the land in the same way as straw to retain moisture and to increase root temperatures.