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A Study on Environmental Pollution Caused by Plastics Used in the Agricultural Sector and A Market Study on Compostable Plastic Mulching Film and Plastic Bags
“Over decades of agricultural development in Cambodia, agricultural inputs play a critical role in improving the quality and quantity of crop yield.
These agricultural inputs include seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, plastic mulching films, and irrigation systems. Most of them are made from plastics or packed in plastic bags/containers. However, one of the main problems is waste of these inputs particularly the plastic never completely removed, leaving the remnants in the fields, in water bodies, burry into the soil, break down into pieces and get into the underground water or in the worst case, burning and releasing toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.
There are some studies on the pollution of plastic and solid waste in general and/or plastic pollution in marine ecosystems. These studies were either focused on plastic bags or other forms of plastic used for groceries, foods, trash, etc., and do not include agricultural plastics like mulch, packages, containers, and drip lines, or were not focused on soil health and underground water quality. Agricultural plastics, particularly mulching films, are mostly made from polyethylene (PE) or low-density polyethylene (LDPE). A plastic mulching film can improve water use efficiency, prevent weed growth, and reduce soil erosion, therefore improving crop yield. The plastic mulching film has been introduced in Cambodia for nearly a decade and has gained popularity among vegetable growers.
There are different kinds of plastic mulching films with a range of quality and price available in Cambodia. Some plastic mulching films can be used for at least two crop growing cycles whereas others can barely last a crop growing cycle before breaking into small pieces and it is nearly impossible for farmers to remove these pieces of plastic from the soil. Recently, there is increasing concern over macro- and microscopic plastic residues in the soil which is a threat to sustainable agriculture and food safety.
Aims and Objectives:
- Study 1: Environmental pollution caused by plastics used in the agriculture sector
The environmental study will cover pollution caused by plastics used in the agriculture sector – including mulching films, pesticide packages/ containers, dripline, and plastic bags, among others – with a focus on the following themes: what are the environmental impacts from agricultural plastics, specifically the effect of plastic residue, plastic bags and other forms of plastics, including an estimate of -how much plastic mulching ends up in the soil, what are the attitudes of users and the rural community toward managing agricultural plastic waste, and so on.
- Study 2: A market study on plastic mulching film and plastic bags
As the CSmart team begins engaging with the private
sector to explore the commercialization of plastic alternatives, it is important to understand the market size. Specifically, CSmart wants to understand the market size for compostable plastic, which could include plastic mulching and plastic bags, among other products. The market study should include, but not be limited to: who are the manufacturers and distributors of plastic mulch, plastic film, and/or plastic bags in Cambodia, both domestic and import? How much business do these companies do annually, and so on
- Data collection:
– Desk and literature review
– in-depth interview
– soil sampling
- Data analysis:
– Content analysis
– Coding method analysis
– Quantitative descriptive analysis
– Environmental impact analysis
– Market mapping and competitor analysis”