Plastic products are important in agriculture and in the EU about 2 Mt of plastic are used annually. In Norway, plastic products are also an important part of agriculture and the sector has the third largest consumption after packaging from households and industry.
In Norwegian agriculture, plastic films are used for the production of hay bales, to protect crops, and as a soil cover, and seed, lime, fertilizers, and pesticides are stored in plastic packaging. Use of plastic films in the open landscape as well as other plastics that may be mismanaged and enter the environment are exposed to degradation forces, leading to weathering and fragmentation of plastic items into smaller pieces (i.e. micro- and nanoplastics). In addition, plastic can be added to the soil from certain types of fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides, sludge and compost and atmospheric deposition. The long-term consequences of this soil pollution are currently unknown. Knowledge about the uptake of plastic in biota and plants, effect on crop yield, and changes in the physico-chemical properties of soil are missing. In the H2020 project, PAPILLONS – coordinated by NIVA – the sources, behaviour, and effects of plastic in agricultural soils will be investigated. The project is based on a so-called "multi-actor approach" with high degree of interdisciplinarity and the involvement of farmers, regulators, industry, NGOs, and researchers from different countries.
In Norway, knowledge about plastic pollution in agricultural soils is lacking, and a common platform for actors working on plastic issues in agriculture is needed. In PLASTiNOLAND, NIVA supports the newly established network Forum for Agricultural Plastics, which we hope can become a national hub for everyone working on plastic issues related to agriculture. Current information from PAPILLONS will be shared. Conferences will be organised and actors from across Norway will also have the opportunity to engage in activities carried out by PAPILLONS.
Plastic is an important commodity in farming, improving crop protection and performance. In Europe about 2 Mt polymers are converted to agricultural plastics (APs) annually with a substantial fraction used in protected cultivation systems (mulching), seed coating or slow release agrochemicals. During use and end-of-life some AP degrade and generate fragments including micro- and nanoplastics that can accumulate in soil. The long-term impacts of this soil pollution are unknown. The H2020-project, PAPILLONS, coordinated by NIVA, aim to elucidate sources, behavior and effects of MNPs in agricultural soils. The project is funded on the premise of the multi-actor approach, with leading stakeholders from European governance, regulators, industry, farmers organizations, NGOs, and scientific/innovation networks. A key objective of PAPILLONS multi actor approach is to inform and influence international policy development and industrial/agricultural innovation agenda in this sector. In Norway the agricultural sector is the third largest user of plastics. Norwegian farming has peculiar conditions and demands which should be assimilated in the international debate on policy and soil protection regulation. The goal of PLASTiNOLAND is to enable Norwegian stakeholders (farmers, APs importer, APs recyclers, and regulators) to directly engage in PAPILLONS activities as recipient of new knowledge and contributors to the definition of international policy recommendations. In Norway, institutions working with issues related to APs are fragmented and a common network (Forum landbruksplast) has recently been established with minor funding for two years from the county governor of Vestland. PLASTiNOLAND will organize a series of conferences and clustering activities with PAPILLONS to further develop this Forum into a national hub of knowledge sharing and policy debate on plasticulture, with a solid connection and leverage in the broader European context.