Bio-Based Materials for Agricultural Applications
Agricultural plastic waste is a growing global problem, with plastic production increasing 10% annually since the 1950’s. Two zein based bioplastics were developed to be implemented as biodegradable alternatives to polyethylene mulching films and HDPE plastic #2 horticulture pots. With 1.8 million tonnes of plastic mulch consumed in 2015, it is imperative that novel biodegradable improvements be developed. The moisture retention capabilities, degradation potential, and ability to facilitate plant growth of the zein mulching films and horticulture pots were compared to current industry materials. Additionally, ALG-CMC (ACMC) hydrogel bead field trials were conducted to determine their success in remediating phosphorous contamination in agricultural runoff. The ACMC beads have a capacity of 10.38 mg-PO43- /g dry, with 0.0184 mg/L able to be recovered and repurposed into additional nutrients in a circular economy process. Zein mulching films can be supplemented with ACMC beads to improve the reduction of contaminated runoff.