Plastics in agriculture: an environmental challenge

The 29th edition of UNEP’s Foresight Brief explores the use of plastic in agriculture and the significant waste problem this entails which impacts on soil health, biodiversity, productivity and food security. Plastics are used extensively in farming, from plastic coated seeds to mulch film. They also make their way into biosolid fertilizer which is spread on fields. All these products have helped increase crop yields, but there is increasing evidence that degraded plastics are contaminating the soil and impacting biodiversity and soil health. This can lead to reduced productivity and could threaten long-term food security. As a finite resource which is under pressure, agricultural soil needs to be safeguarded from further degradation. Steps are being taken to improve the production and management of agricultural products containing plastics but there is also a need to look at a more holistic approach to food production, including nature-based solutions.

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