According with the new European strategy for protection of the environment, published by the European Commission on January 16, 2018, the use of oxo-degradable mulch films will soon be completely banned in the EU countries. Only biodegradable films conforming to the EN 13432 Standard are considered environmentally safe. One of such bio-degradable films is already produced by IMMER Group in Ukraine.
The uncompromising position concerning the oxo-degradable films in the new EU strategy is determined by their disastrous effect on the environment and the availability of environmentally friendly alternatives of bio-degradable polymer materials. The 2016 Report of the European Commission lays emphasis on the danger of oxo-degradable polymers.
"Only the bio-degradable film comes apart into harmless components of water, carbon dioxide and biomass. This requirement is enshrined in the EU standard. However, in this case, it is necessary to form a clear understanding of the differences between bio-degradable and oxo-degradable films. The latter cannot be considered environmentally friendly and harmless to nature. The oxo-degradable film breaks down into plastic microparticles, which remain in soil and pollute the environment," says Irina Mirochnik, the IMMER Group President.
In accordance with the EN 13432 Standard, adopted by the EU in 2000, the polymer material can be considered biodegradable if at least 90% of its mass completely decomposes due to the activity of anaerobic degraders within of not more than a 6 months’ period.
"The use of oxo-degradable films has been completely banned in China, Spain, Italy and France. Sweden and the UK are considering the adoption of measures that would limit their use. In addition, to avoid the formation of a misunderstanding of the term "degradability", some EU countries, such as, Belgium, Hungary, and Bulgaria have even passed the law that forbids the producers of oxo-degradable materials from claiming them to be bio-degradable," says Irina Mirochnik.
The new mulch film developed by the IMMER Group Research and Development Center is biodegradable and complies with the EN 13432 Standard. The bio-degradation of the developed mulch film occurs under natural settings of temperature, humidity and anaerobic degraders.
Such a solution is not only economically advantageous for the farmers, but it is also ecologically sound. Due to its ecological compatibility, the bio-degradable film for the mulching of soil can be successfully applied in both traditional and organic farming. The BIO-degradable film is effective in growing vegetable, cereal, fruit and berry crops. Mulching the soil with bio-degradable film accelerates vegetation of plants under conditions of limited moisture supply, while increasing the yield of some crops up to 70%.
"Biodegradable plastics" means plastics that can be bio-transformed and decomposed by microorganisms into water, occurring gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) and biomass (e.g. growth of the microorganism population).
Oxo-degradable films are the films made of conventional polymers, usually, polyethylene, which contain additives to accelerate the oxidation of the material under the influence of external conditions (UV radiation and temperature), resulting in very small plastic fragments (microplastics) with similar properties of conventional plastics polluting the environment. Source: COM(2018) 28 final “A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy”