Agricultural products certified as soil-biodegradable will biodegrade in soil. Such products are designed for agricultural purposes and should be used accordingly. Conscientious and thorough application prevents parts of the mulch films from leaking into other environments than soil. The film is buried in the soil at the sides and, if necessary, covered with soil in several places. In addition, thorough ploughing under after harvesting is indispensable for the biodegradation process.
Biodegradability in the open environment (especially marine) is desirable only for very few, highly specific, applications. These could be applications that would be difficult to find and recover, such as firework casings, or applications intended to be used by professionals like farmers or fishermen/fisherwomen (e.g. certain fishing gear) under specific circumstances. For products intended to biodegrade in marine environments, international standards defining marine biodegradability of plastic items will have to be developed, as currently being done in ISO and ASTM level.
For other applications the property of being biodegradable in the open environment is neither to be promoted nor endorsed, and concerned industry fully agrees that this principle should not change. However, if an overall assessment of the persistence of items that are of consequence for “littering” is to be carried out, it should incorporate a risk assessment for all materials that can be found in the open environment, including conventional plastics.