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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1406

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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1406

Films | Flexibles | Bags

Films | Flexibles | Bags Until recently mulch film was mostly made from polyethylene. These mulch films are used only when rubber trees are not matured. After rubber trees reach maturity, their canopies touch each other preventing the sunlight from reaching the soil. Weeds cannot grow without sunlight. Then the mulch films have to be removed. However PE mulch films do not degrade hence have to be removed by manual labour which is very costly in large scale plantations. Bioplastics geotextiles prevent soil erosion while they slowly degrade. Maxrich is developing biodegradable mulch films by compounding bioplastics. The mulch films are to meet specific requirements in rubber plantations. Biodegradable mulch films for rubber plantations have to last long enough for rubber trees to reach maturity. The bioplastics mulch films would support the policy of reducing the use of chemical weed killers and set an example for other agricultural crops. Economics comparison shows that, over a long period, savings of chemical weed killers can pay back for biodegradable mulch films. Geotextiles for soil erosion control Rubber plantations on hill slopes face the problem of soil erosion. Soil erosion causes landslides which damage rubber trees and presents a danger to farmers. There have been incidents where many rubber plantations were completely destroyed and lives lost by landslides. The traditional method to counter soil erosion is to make earth ladders. This method requires massive manual labour in rough terrains. Another method is to lay geotextiles on sloped hills to prevent soil erosion. Presently, geotextiles are made from plastics (polypropylene or polyethylene). Similar to mulch films, these geotextiles are required until rubber trees have matured. After the rubber trees reach maturity, their roots hold the soil tightly and become their own natural soil erosion control. Maxrich is developing biodegradable geotextiles from compounds of bioplastics, then converting them into non-woven textiles or netting. These biodegradable geotextiles, while slowly degrading, control the soil erosion while rubber trees grow to reach maturity. The application of bioplastics in natural rubber plantations is on the agenda of the Senate Committee for Science and Technology. The Committee awarded Maxrich Co., Ltd. with Excellence in Science and Technology Award. A policy advocacy on bioplastics in agricultures is expected to follow. Conclusion Bioplastics applications are used for packaging as well as for durable goods. In these applications their performance and cost have to be competitive with petroleum-based plastics, in many instances, bioplastics are not justifiable, but natural rubbers are an economics crop with 30 years life span – better agricultural practices, better environment, and economics savings, can easily justify bioplastics. Bioplastics will be a new era for 2 million families of Thai rubber farmers. By: Nopadol Suanprasert President Maxrich Co., Ltd Bangkok, Thailand www.bioplasticpackages.com www.rubber.co.th 14 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/14] Vol. 9

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