The Repercussions of Plastic Reliance in Agriculture

The Repercussions of Plastic Reliance in Agriculture

Plastic has become an essential component of the produce sector as a whole (including organic produce), despite the fact that its use is in direct opposition to sustainable development. 

This strong dependence on plastic in agriculture and the supply chain has resulted in considerable environmental issues. Plastic pollution and waste, as well as the influence they have on climate change and human health, are urgent problems that need to be addressed. 

This blog post will look at the consequences of over-reliance on plastic and will discuss some innovative approaches that researchers, industry professionals, and organic food activists have developed to lessen the amount of plastic used across the supply chain.

We’ll also explain how Silo can help your business achieve its sustainability goals with the right amount of capital and the right fintech solution.

The prevalence of plastic in the supply chain

Plastic has a multitude of applications across the produce supply chain. This opens up the door to ample plastic pollution in agriculture, packing, and transportation.

Even though one of the goals of sustainable growing is to foster biodiversity and improve the health of the soil without the use of any synthetic inputs, organic growing often makes use of plastic as a solution to a variety of problems. Plastic is used to protect plants, increase yields in various ways, preserve water, and reduce the pressure exerted by pests.

The sustainable philosophy inherent in organic growing becomes nullified by this dependence on synthetic plastics.

After the growing phase, items are even then packaged in synthetic plastic bags or clamshell containers and shipped on hard plastic pallets. By the time these items reach the customer, the plastic components are then discarded and end up in landfills.

Barriers to addressing plastic waste in agriculture and the supply chain

The excessive use of plastic creates considerable problems for surrounding environments, and adding to this issue are roadblocks preventing the adoption of sustainable solutions.

For example, recycling plastic sheets used as mulch to cover the soil (intended to inhibit the development of weeds, improve the absorption of fertilizer, and protect both plants and the soil) can prove to be challenging and expensive due to the chemicals involved in growing.

Growers may then resort to burning or burying plastic waste in agriculture. This improper disposal strategy results in the release of toxic chemicals that pollute the air.

Reusing plastic mulch is less than ideal, as it has the potential to leave behind microplastics that may remain there for decades. Studies on the long-term impacts of the buildup of microplastics in the soil (as well as their influence on human health) are currently ongoing, but it goes without saying that the best solution is to look for an alternative substitute.

Reducing plastic waste through alternatives

Efforts to decrease the use of plastic in agriculture and the supply chain have expanded as businesses are looking into more environmentally-friendly alternatives. Some notable initiatives in the effort to cut down on the use of plastic are the following.

Paper pots

To replace single-use plastic trays and pots, more businesses are making use of paper pots that are biodegradable and readily transplantable into the ground. 

Although recycling discarded plastic pots is possible, it’s not a long-term solution due to the limited capacity and facilities available for recycling.

Biodegradable plastic mulch

Biodegradable plastic alternatives to standard polyethylene plastic mulch might be another potential solution to plastic pollution in agriculture. Incorporating biodegradable mulch into the soil at the end of the growing season not only reduces environmental impact, but also conveniently eliminates the need for its removal.

However, it’s important to note that as of right now, the price of biodegradable plastic is greater than the price of standard polyethylene mulch. As a result, access is limited to many growers and more advocacy is needed to make it more affordable.

Fiber coverings

Fiber coverings are another promising solution to combat plastic use, as fiber is biodegradable, recyclable, and compostable.

In fact, a program that encouraged the replacement of plastic stretch wrap with reusable "banana blankets" saw businesses able to minimize their usage of plastic in agriculture by 95%.

Resealable trays

Resealable trays available to businesses may be made of post-consumer recycled material, using 27 to 35% less plastic.

The peel-and-reseal lidding film that comes along with the tray allows items to be kept in a regulated environment.

Achieve sustainability goals with Silo

Plastic in agriculture and in the supply chain makes way for pollution and inadequate waste management. For this reason, sustainability as an objective has become a paramount concern for businesses. Businesses seeking greater sustainability will need creative solutions and the capital needed to help them adopt new material alternatives, optimize operations, and minimize waste.

For this, consider Silo Capital, an alternative funding method that provides businesses with fast, discreet, access to working capital. More capital means more room to invest in sustainable operations and materials that push your business forward.

Additionally, Silo is a holistic solution that gives businesses real-time insight into their inventory. Along with buying and selling solutions, Silo helps businesses reduce waste and get the most out of their investments.

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