Agrochemical plastic packaging waste decontamination for recycling: Pilot tests in Italy

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Caterina Picuno *
Zoe Godosi
Kerstin Kuchta
Pietro Picuno
(*) Corresponding Author:
Caterina Picuno | caterina.picuno@tuhh.de

Abstract

Agriculture, one of the main economic pillars in Europe, plays a growing important role towards the environmental sustainability of the extra-urban land, in which the agricultural activities may proactively contribute to control and regulate the whole ecological conditions. Modern agriculture currently needs big quantities of agrochemicals, which are necessary for the growth and protection of crops and animals. These agrochemicals are commercially distributed to consumers in many types of containers. The most widely used packaging solutions usually employ plastic materials (e.g., containers for liquid pesticide; sacks for granular fertiliser; etc.). These materials, after the use of the agrochemical, need to be decontaminated, before being entrained in a recycling process, in the framework of a circular economy. In the present paper the main results coming from a EU-funded international project are reported, with specific reference to a pilot station that was realised in Italy with the aim to implement and test a codified system for the decontamination of these plastic containers for agrochemicals. The experimental tests were supported by relevant laboratory analysis, which have confirmed that the triple-rinsing decontamination procedure - traditionally employed by farmers for washing and decontaminating these containers - may be effective only under some well-defined conditions. Triple rinsing by farmers has indeed led to an only partial decontamination of the plastic containers, if farmers did not follow an appropriate triple-rinsing protocol, or did not triple-rinse the containers immediately after their emptying.


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