The world consumption of plastics in agriculture amounts yearly to 6.5 million tons. In addition to conventional polymers used in agriculture for greenhouses and mulches such as PE, PVC, EVA, photo-selective and luminescent polymers have been used, in order to improve the quality of crops. For the same reason plastic nets are used mainly in countries with tropical and Mediterranean climates. For an environmentally friendly agricultural activity, an alternative strategy can be represented by bio-based agricultural raw materials. For low environmental impact applications, biodegradable materials for agricultural films are nowadays produced. An overview of the main methods for the disposal and recycling of plastic materials are presented with the results of mechanical and radiometric tests on recycled plastics. The strategies to reduce the burden of plastics in agriculture are: a correct procedure for the collection, disposal and recycling of post-consumption plastics; the increase of lifetime duration and performance; and the introduction and promotion of bio-based materials.
Agricultural plastic materials, plastic material properties, plastic waste management.