In Europe, over 720 kt/yr of agriculture plastics is used and only 24% of this is recycled. The main end-of-life for this plastic today is still landfilling. It is estimated that about 34 kt/yr of plastic materials are burned in the fields. Finally, about 950.000 ha of agricultural soil are polluted by plastic residues (see Figure 1). (12)

Figure 1. End-of-life of plastics materials for agriculture (Eunomia 2021)

Mulch films, threads, and clips are the agricultural plastic applications with the most complicated collection and disposal, due to the amount of soil and other green waste, which is inseparably connected to these products at the end of their life in the field. Mulch films represent the second largest share of plastic films used in crop production in Europe (83 kt/yr) (13).

Figure 2. Soil content of main plastics applications (Eunomia,2021)

Figure 2. Soil content of main plastics applications (Eunomia,2021)

The materials used mostly in certified soil-biodegradable agricultural and horticultural applications are PHAs, PBAT, PBS, PCL, PLA, and starch. Of the global bioplastics production capacities in 2022, around 8% of certified soil-biodegradable materials were used for applications in agriculture and horticulture. This share is projected to reach 9% by 2027. There is an increased use of PHA and PLA for these applications, with the other polymers remaining rather stable.

In Europe, the production capacity for biode