In Taiwan, it is possible as the recycled material is used in the plastic injection moulding industry, but substantial quantities of recyclable material must be available at a specific location to make this option economical. At AVRDC’s Headquarters, we are using just under three tonnes of such plastic a year, so recycling is feasible.

Looking for alternatives: “Bionolle” put to the test

In order to address this unresolved problem for small-scale farmers, AVRDC is now examining the potential functionality and costs of substituting polyethylene mulch with biodegradable mulch. Such mulches are made from biodegradable polyester or vegetable starches and eventually degrade into water and carbon dioxide, leaving no toxic residues. The time they need until their complete incorporation in the soil varies depending on their composition (they can be extruded with a pre-determined lifetime in the field) and the local environmental conditions and the soil type on which they are applied, and they are clearly a much more environmental-friendly alternative to PE mulch.