Plastics are used all the way through the food production cycle. In this article, we will cover just a few ways that plastics make our lives easier, more efficient, and tastier!
An important part of modern farming is ‘plasticulture’. ‘Plasticulture’ is a portmanteau of ‘plastic’ and ‘agriculture’ and refers to the use of plastic in agricultural applications. This can range from ground level ‘plastic mulch’ to large polytunnels and plastic greenhouses.
Nursery plant pots and seedling are often vacuum formed or thermoformed, allowing consumers and businesses to choose any size they like by making a mould to suit. The vacuum forming process can also deliver a large measure of complexity within the structure of the plant pot, allowing for a host of features that are deemed ideal for plant growth. Their durability, strength and lightness has led to the ubiquity of plastic plant pots, and advanced plastic recycling techniques have allowed for efficient recycling of them – further increasing efficiency. HIPs is the most common plastic used for plant pots and trays. It’s a durable plastic that is stiff which means that plants can easily be pushed out ready to plant. If a more rubbery characteristic of the plastic is required to stop the pots cracking, impact modifier can be added and has a great affect.
Plastic is an ideal mulch for many applications as it is easily deployed, easy to remove and is very long-lasting. For the uninitiated, mulch is used to insulate and maintain a constant temperature and humidity in the soil it covers, and to prevent weed growth and soil erosion from wind and water. Farmers use plastic mulch to this end by covering their plots of land in strips of it and then poking seeds through the thin material. In dry and arid climates, plastic mulch is very valuable in the constant fight against evaporation. Once used the plastic mulch is removed from the fields and can then be recycled.
Another important use of plastics in agriculture is in polytunnels and greenhouses. Polytunnels are cheap, durable, portable alternatives to rigid greenhouses, and like greenhouses, are used to keep plants warmer than they otherwise could be. This allows us to grow plants that otherwise would wither and die in the UK’s harsh climate. Polytunnels have a life span between 6-45 months, dependant on several factors, and can be moved from field to field very easily, to aid in crop rotation. An interesting development in the last few decades has been to use polytunnels in animal husbandry, alongside their traditional use in agriculture. This has allowed farmers to house foreign animals such as alpacas and llamas comfortably, and it is common in the UK to see polytunnels used to house these animals, alongside goats, sheep and poultry.
Euro Extrusions Ltd is a market leader in the plastic extrusion industry, supplying clients with a large range of products including thermoplastic sheet and film. Euro Extrusions has worked on a wide range of projects across a number of industries, and is backed by ISO 9001 certification.
Based in Lancashire, Euro Extrusions manufactures roll and sheet High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS), ABS and Polypropylene. HIPS sheet, HIPS rolls and HIPS film, along with other vacuum forming plastic, and thermoformed plastics are used in many industries and techniques from Vacuum Forming and Thermoforming, to Point of Sale Display, CNC cutting and the building industry. Euro Extrusions works with and produces both virgin and recycled plastics, also offering clients a plastic waste recycling service.
To find out more call 01254 886662. Alternatively, click here to view Euro Extrusion’s range of thermoplastics.