Polymers are employed in agriculture in several applications, the most efficient and fruitful of which is the protection of cultivations through the use of cover placed over plants while they are growing, providing protection from climatic factors, while at the same time increasing yield and/or extending the cropping season. Plastic films used for covering greenhouses, low and medium tunnel and for soil mulching have reached very notable consumptions all over Europe as well as the rest of the World, posing an important environmental problem connected with the impact that plastic material has on the sustainability of the agricultural production, whose environmental footprint may be deteriorated. Recycling agricultural plastics is a common technique, but it has not yet solved the problem of their re-use in the framework of a circular economy, since many factors are still anyway limiting the mechanical recycling of agricultural plastic materials. Among these limiting factors, the loss of mechanical properties of plastic film, due to its ageing after being exposed to direct solar radiation plays a crucial role, mostly if aggravated by the contamination with agrochemicals ordinarily used for crop health and pest management. In the present paper, the results of some laboratory tests on agricultural plastic film artificially aged for different periods contaminated with two different agrochemicals, are reported. These results have showed that the impact of agrochemicals on the plastic film is considerable already in the use-phase, so when entering the recycling stage, the material carries a low potential for being transformed into a closed-loop recycled material. The results in terms of Carbonyl Index (CI) have confirmed the tendency of the material to degrade rapidly when in contact with anti-aphid or fungicide contaminants. The samples sprayed with agrochemicals experience a considerable increase in CI values after 4 weeks of ageing, which makes impossible the mechanical recycling of this material.

Agrochemical contamination and ageing effects on greenhouse plastic film for recycling

Picuno P.
;
2021-01-01

Abstract

Polymers are employed in agriculture in several applications, the most efficient and fruitful of which is the protection of cultivations through the use of cover placed over plants while they are growing, providing protection from climatic factors, while at the same time increasing yield and/or extending the cropping season. Plastic films used for covering greenhouses, low and medium tunnel and for soil mulching have reached very notable consumptions all over Europe as well as the rest of the World, posing an important environmental problem connected with the impact that plastic material has on the sustainability of the agricultural production, whose environmental footprint may be deteriorated. Recycling agricultural plastics is a common technique, but it has not yet solved the problem of their re-use in the framework of a circular economy, since many factors are still anyway limiting the mechanical recycling of agricultural plastic materials. Among these limiting factors, the loss of mechanical properties of plastic film, due to its ageing after being exposed to direct solar radiation plays a crucial role, mostly if aggravated by the contamination with agrochemicals ordinarily used for crop health and pest management. In the present paper, the results of some laboratory tests on agricultural plastic film artificially aged for different periods contaminated with two different agrochemicals, are reported. These results have showed that the impact of agrochemicals on the plastic film is considerable already in the use-phase, so when entering the recycling stage, the material carries a low potential for being transformed into a closed-loop recycled material. The results in terms of Carbonyl Index (CI) have confirmed the tendency of the material to degrade rapidly when in contact with anti-aphid or fungicide contaminants. The samples sprayed with agrochemicals experience a considerable increase in CI values after 4 weeks of ageing, which makes impossible the mechanical recycling of this material.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11563/150386
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