It can be applied by hand or by machine but in both cases must be strong enough to undergo the application to soil beds without tearing and be able to withstand the initial anchoring process of the plastic to the soil surface.

However, these plastic mulches are made from non-renewable petroleum-based materials, and they are frequently used for one growing season only. Therefore safe and environmentally sound disposal of polyethylene (PE) mulch is a serious issue in terms of the long-term costs to the environment. At the end of the growing season, the plastic film has to be removed, requiring additional labour, and is then discarded (see top right Photo), and disposed of either by incineration (which can release toxic compounds into the air) or through landfill, where it can be very unsightly, occupying large areas of land, and takes many years to fully degrade. More opportunities for the recycling of this plastic waste would be highly desirable, but this is not often practical or possible in Southeast Asia.