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Degradation of Polyethylene Designed for Agricultural Purposes


For many years now, scientific articles have been published on the potential biodegradability of polyethylene. Polyethylene (PE) with peroxidant additives, in the form of agricultural films, is sold by various suppliers as biodegradable mulch. Even though, the photo-chemical and thermal degradation of these products under artificial laboratory conditions is highlighted, several extrapolation on the biodegradation and, moreover, on the neutral environmental impact of PE are made. In this study, three different commercial mulch films have been submitted to standardised biodegradation tests and the results are discussed. The first conclusions are that a very low degree of biodegradation of the commercial PE films is achieved from these tests and that crosslinked PE micro-fragments are found in soil after a very long period of time.

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Correspondence to Yves Grohens.

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Feuilloley, P., César, G., Benguigui, L. et al. Degradation of Polyethylene Designed for Agricultural Purposes. J Polym Environ 13, 349–355 (2005).

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  • Biodegradability
  • polyethylene
  • fragments
  • crosslinking