The extensive and expanding use of plastic in agriculture results in increased accumulation of plastic waste in rural areas. The majority of this waste is left on the field or burnt uncontrollably by the farmers releasing harmful substances. Although it is mandatory, only a small percentage of the agricultural plastic waste is collected, recycled or used for energy recovery due to the high collection cost and the low value of the collected product. If the collected plastic waste meets certain specs (i.e. cleanliness, composition, properties) by being collected and handled properly, and is tested (that it meets the required specs) and labelled accordingly it can be transformed into a valuable commodity.
The scope of this prenormative research work is to develop and integrate the collection, sampling and labelling procedures and the methodologies to valorise the agricultural plastic waste streams by facilitating their routing to the best disposal alternative (technically feasible, most environmental friendly and economically valuable). The labelling in addition to facilitating and improving the efficiency of the disposal alternatives will allow transport of labelled agricultural plastic waste across boundaries and valuation of the waste streams in an open European market simultaneously preserving valuable material resources and protecting the environment.
The technical requirements of waste streams for each disposal alternative will be developed as well as the methodology to reach these requirements. This will provide the farmers SMEs with clean guideline on how to collect and sort the waste to reach the specs. Waste sampling and labelling methodology will be developed and field-tested. The marketability of the product "waste" resulting from the standardization will provide strong incentives to achieve 100% waste collection rates resulting in a cleaner environment.
The main objective is to develop a labelling scheme for the agricultural plastic waste in Europe that will allow it to be traded as a commodity.