Biobased biodegradeble nets for horti- and agriculture
Nets are increasingly used in agriculture and horticulture to improve the quality of crops, increase yields and reduce labor. However, once they have fulfilled their function, these nets are difficult to recycle therefore often remain in the soil, which ends up being polluted. Previously proposed solutions using non-biodegradable plastics, like (oxo-degradable) polyethylene and polypropylene, can accumulate in soil as visible and invisible plastic waste. Recycling of the plastic netting is labour intensive and difficult because nets are highly contaminated with soil and organic materials. Therefore this project aims to develop a biodegradable net to assist grass turf growth that maintains its functionality during grass growth and harvest and starts biodegradation after installation in the application environment (e.g. sports fields or city parks).
In this project, the main bio-based, biodegradable plastic that will be used is polybutylene succinate (PBS). In the intended application PBS aims to replace non-biodegradable plastics such as polypropylene that are currently used within this industry. PBS is partially made from biobased succinic acid and has a 90% carbon footprint reduction compared to fossil based succinic acid. PBS is considered the most suitable material with respect to processing, mechanical and end-of-life properties. PBS is commercially produced from biomass. The challenge is to meet the requirements during production of nets, the functional life of nets and the required behaviour during end of life.
Bio-based and biodegradable nets are known and commercially available for food packaging. These commercially available nets do however not satisfy performance requirements in horti- and agriculture. The netting for grass turf requires better mechanical properties and a different biodegradation profile in soil. During turf growth (1.5-2 years) netting should retain its mechanical properties in soil. After harvesting and installation netting should degrade in soil. Opposite to triggered degradation the aim is to protect the netting against biodegradation for about 2 years and then allow the natural biodegradation process.
The intended result of this project is to develop bio-based, in soil biodegradable netting for the production of grass turf. The netting should be compatible with current production methods (product demands over the entire crop-growth until harvesting), and should biodegrade in soil. The main intended outcome of the project is to have a first prototype ready and applied on the application environment by the end of the project.