Uncertainty about plastic in grass turf

Amsterdam, 10 May 2019 – We are taught not to leave our rubbish behind. However, if you buy grass turf rolls you might inadvertently put plastic in your garden. A plastic mesh could be fused with the grass turf rolls. This mesh gives the grass turf rolls extra sturdiness when it is harvested and the producers can harvest grass turf more often. But the use of plastic mesh is controversial; therefore several producers of grass turf rolls clearly label their products as plastic free.

After one year in the ground this bio-based mesh in grass turf does not show any sign of degradation.

Bio-based plastic mesh

Some producers use bio-based plastic mesh and here the lines start to blur. Because how fast does this bio-based mesh really degrade? There are no standards for bio-based plastics. Wageningen University will conclude research on biodegradable nets later this year. This research project tries to develop a biodegradable net that truly degrades after it fulfilled its purpose. If this is successful the benefit for the environment will be tremendous, because biodegradable mesh can be used with other crops as well.

Standards of biodegradability

The Plastic Soup Foundation pushes for a complete ban on plastic nets in horticulture and agriculture, or anywhere else for that matter. It would be a different case for bio-based nets, depending on the biodegradability of the nets.

The difficulty is the timing; the biodegradable plastic should only break down after it fulfilled its purpose. Getting this break-down timing right in a dry environment is already difficult, while submersion in water, with even more challenging conditions: low oxygen, low temperatures and little sunlight, makes it even more complicated. And the chances that biodegradable plastic lands in the water cannot be dismissed, so it has to be considered in the new standard of biodegradable nets.