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Issue 02/2020

  • Text
  • Use
  • Horticulture
  • Agriculture
  • Thermoforming
  • Packaging
  • Films
  • Biobased
  • Biodegradable
  • Products
  • Plastics
  • Materials
  • Packaging
  • Bioplastics
Highlights: Agri-/Horticulture Thermoforming Rigid Packaging Basics Land use (update)


Agriculture/Horticulture Biodegradable Mulch Films: The Superior Solution By: Bettina Fink C.A.R.M.E.N. Straubing, Germany P lastic films are versatile in agriculture practice therefore worldwide consumption is rising sharply. However, conventional films also have significant weaknesses that need to be solved and that biodegradable products may overcome. Plastic films for agricultural applications: strengths and weaknesses Agricultural films, i.e. films for greenhouses, mulching and silage, help farmers to increase crop yields, harvest earlier, reduce the consumption of chemicals and water for irrigation, as well as to protect food and feed quality. Therefore, their use has significantly increased all over the world: for 2018, CIPA estimated a worldwide consumption of 6.12 million tonnes (Europe: 650,000 tonnes), and a growth of 50% until 2030 [1]. Mulch films account for one third. Although agricultural films represent only about 1-2 % of the total plastic consumption, their use creates serious problems that have to be solved. This particularly applies to mulch films (see table 1). Conventional mulch films are based on polyethylene (PE), are relatively thin (20-50 µm) and are usually designed for a lifetime of some months [2]. Table 1: Main problems caused by PE mulch films Weakness of PE mulch film Main problem (Photo: Novamont) In short: Properties, handling and quality • Biodegradable mulch films are made of bioplastics, usually starch blends or PLA-blends. • They are comparable with PE-products in many ways, inter alia similar mechanical properties, use of same machinery for mechanical laying and same irrigation systems. • The main difference consists in the costs: Biodegradable mulch films are 1.5-2 times more expensive per square meter. On the other hand, the higher material costs are largely offset due to no costs for removing/disposing of films. • To make sure that films are completely biodegradable in soil and do not contain ecotoxic substances which could harm environment, farmers should exclusively choose EN 17033 certified products Have to be disposed of after harvesting. Due to their high rate of soilage (up to 200 %) they add up to about 6 million tonnes of plastic waste worldwide (700,000 tonnes in Europe) [1] • high costs for disposal • mechanical recycling inefficient • greenhouse gas emissions by landfill or incineration TÜV Austria: OK biodegradable soil DIN CERTCO: Biodegradable in soil After harvesting, mulch films have to be removed/disposed of • resources/manpower to be scheduled PE is not biodegradable but partly • release of microplastics destroyed by exposition to sun, air into the environment and plant protection products The superior solution: Biodegradable mulch films Biodegradable mulch films may overcome the weaknesses of PE-mulch films, thus solving resulting problems in the agricultural practice and reducing environmental impacts. Biodegradable mulch films are used in many countries to cultivate a large variety of crops, for example courgette, pumpkin, lettuce, tomato, melon, cucumber, gherkin, berries, vine, asparagus, corn, rice or sugar beet. Considering the increasing use of mulch films on one hand and the huge problem of plastic waste and microplastics in the environment on the other, the use of biodegradable mulch films will become more and more important. The key benefits of biodegradable mulch films are • no plastic waste • no manpower to remove films because ploughed into the soil • no microplastics released because completely biodegraded to carbon dioxide and water • less greenhouse gas emissions • based on renewables References: [1] B. Le Moine, “Worldwide Plasticulture”, presented at the XXIst CIPA Congress, Bordeaux, 2018. [2] G. Scarascia et al., “Plastic materials in European agriculture: Actual use and perspectives”, J. of Ag. Eng., vol. 3, pp. 15-28. 2011. C.A.R.M.E.N. e.V., Straubing (Germany) is a non-profit organization in the renewables sector. We provide information and advice, from policymakers to consumers, one major topic being bioplastics. 26 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/20] Vol. 15

Automotive 2020 The Bioplastics Award will be presented during the 15th European Bioplastics Conference December 01-02, 2020, Vienna, Austria PRESENTS THE FIFTEENTH ANNUAL GLOBAL AWARD FOR DEVELOPERS, MANUFACTURERS AND USERS OF BIOBASED AND/OR BIODEGRADABLE PLASTICS. Call for proposals Enter your own product, service or development, or nominate your favourite example from another organisation Please let us know until August 31 st 1. What the product, service or development is and does 2. Why you think this product, service or development should win an award 3. What your (or the proposed) company or organisation does Your entry should not exceed 500 words (approx. 1 page) and may also be supported with photographs, samples, marketing brochures and/or technical documentation (cannot be sent back). The 5 nominees must be prepared to provide a 30 second videoclip and come to Vienna on Dec. 01. More details and an entry form can be downloaded from supported by bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/20] Vol. 15 27

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