Both farmers in the technology industry 4.0 and amateur gardeners know that a lot of plastic products have many benefits for them in farming. Some typical examples you can easily see in everyday life are from water tanks, irrigation systems, water troughs, coatings, roofing sheets, tunnels, to watering cans … all can made from plastics. However, in the world of plastics, there are many types that are plentiful. Not all of them are always safe to use in agriculture. In fact, users usually see that there are labels stick to bottles or products like this photo:
To identify which plastics are suitable for crop cultivation, we will analyze what kind of plastics is? What product to use and whether it can be safely used in the garden or not.
It’s one of the most common plastics for food items like soda bottles, jars of peanut butter, or jars of ghee you use for cooking. One of the issues with this type of plastic is that it tends to take on the aroma of the food that is stored in it. It’s one of the most commonly recycled plastics and is almost exclusively used for single-use items since it can break down when exposed for long periods of time to light or heat. If you’re paying attention, that means it’s not the best choice for your garden or farm, since they typically are exposed to quite a bit of light and heat!
It means High-Density Polyethylene. You see HDPE everywhere, from milk jugs to detergent bottles. It’s one of the best and safest types of plastic for food consumption as it resists UV rays and is extremely heat tolerant ( -148 to 176 F / -100 to 80 C ). Because of this, it’s an excellent choice in agriculture. It is very safe, not known to transmit any chemicals into soil or food. An excellent choice for the garden.
Plastic marked with a 3 is made of Polyvinyl Chloride, better known as PVC. One of the more commonly known types of plastic, PVC shows up in plastic pipes, irrigation, salad dressing bottles, and liquid detergent containers. Most PVC products contain chemicals known as phthalates, which essentially help the PVC be more durable, flexible, etc – all of the qualities we associate with plastic. While this is great for making PVC a quality building material, phthalates are not the best for us humans. In fact, most of us have some small concentration of phthalates in our urine due to leaching, though the CDC believes that our diet is the reason for most of the phthalates in our bodies. So, many farmers usually do not use PVC in their farms for this reason.
Plastics marked with a 4 are made with Low-Densidy Polyethylene. Some products that use LDPE include plastic produce bags, trash can liners, and food storage containers. Are you seeing a trend here? The plastics that are already used for food storage tend to also be safe to garden with. Like it’s older cousin HDPE, LDPE plastic is very safe in a wide range of temperatures and can even be used in the microwave. Conclusion? It’s a good choice for crops because it is very safe, not known to transmit any chemicals into soil or food.
Plastic marked with a 5 is made of Polypropylene. Commonly used in products that require injection molding like straws, bottle caps, or food containers. While it’s not as universally tolerant to heat as HDPE or LDPE, it generally is safe for use with food and the garden. There are some minor concerns about leaching that came up after Canadian researchers found that the leaching was affecting their lab work, but for the most part it’s regarded as a safe plastic . In order to provide cheaper PP products that are still quality for manufacturers, Polyfill provides calcium carbonate masterbatch for them at the best price. From here, farmers will have the opportunity to access more products suitable for their farms.
Plastic marked with a 6 is made of Polystyrene. You see polystyrene based plastic everywhere – packing peanuts, styrofoam cups, plastic forks, meat trays, to-go containers, etc. It’s one of the most widely used types of plastic in a variety of industries. Being so widely used, it’s also been the subject of many scientific tests on health and safety. The general conclusion is that it’s safe for use in food products, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe for gardening.
One interesting fact is that the food products that are contained in polystyrene (meat, berries, etc) all have styrene as a naturally occurring compound. Polystyrene is a continual topic of discussion in scientific circles due to it’s wide use. One particularly popular topic is the safety of microwaving polystyrene products with food – the jury is still out on that one. All in all, it’s a decent plastic to use for the garden, but the only concern is that it is a more porous material and less sturdy, making it not a good structural choice for the garden.
Plastic marked with a 7 is made from anything other than the materials listed in numbers 1-6. Typically this means plastics made of Polycarbonate or Polylactide. Polycarbonate is the most common type 7 plastic. It’s been proven time and time again to leach BPA, which has been linked to a lot of different health problems. That means that there are also some safe plastics in this category as well, but you’ll have to do further research to make sure that you’re using one that’s safe.
Hopefully this breakdown gives you a good idea of what to look for when it comes to using plastic in the garden. Why go through the trouble when there are other, safer plastics to use like HDPE, LDPE or PP?
For gardener or farmers, it is just because they’re the safest by far when it comes to actual scientific tests and potential concerns. Yes, they’re a bit more expensive to purchase.
For manufacturers, this is a chance for them if they can supply more cheaper gardening tools from above resins, they will surely win a lot of advantages in the market. For these reasons polyfill is providing more calcium carbonate masterbatch from HDPE, PP, LDPE and PE resins. Please leave your questions and requests at this link, we will contact you immediately for technical advice and the best price.
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