Act Fast: Deadline for Comments is
9-24-2012 (see link below)
The BPI has submitted a petition to the USDA's - National Organic Program (NOP)
Biodegradable Mulch Film Made From Bioplastics
to the National List at §205.601. You can support the use of certified compostable films for agricultural mulch films by downloading, signing, and submitting the petition.
Click here to view the petition on the USDA-NOSB website.
Why is BPI petitioning to add Biodegradable Mulch Films to the National List?
The USDA National Organic Standards were written before biodegradable films were available. In 1990, when plastic was referenced in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), it was not equivalent nor intended to reference biodegradable mulch film. Back then, mulch films were made from traditional plastics such as polyethylene (PE), or blends of starch and PE that fragmented but did not biodegrade. Biodegradable mulch films were not commercially available at the time
The BPI is proposing that biodegradable mulch film should be added under section
§ 205.206 (c) " Biodegradable Mulch Film Made from Bioplastics: without removal at the end of the growing or harvest season." Allowance under this section of the regulations would provide the farmers the product they need, a fully biodegradable mulch, as intended by § 205.206(c)(1).
Why Are Polyethylene Mulch Films a Problem for the Environment?
In 1999, more than 30 million acres of agricultural land worldwide were covered with plastic mulch. Many organic vegetable farmers rely on black plastic mulch to suppress weeds (and limit the use of chemicals).
At the end of the growing season, farmers must collect the soiled polyethylene plastic mulch. This is a costly, labor-intensive process that delays cover cropping.
Worse, this polyethylene plastic mulch has a major disposal issue. Since these films are covered with dirt and agricultural residues, they cannot be readily recycled. Accordingly, used mulch films must be discarded into landfills.
There is estimated to be 100-120 pounds of un-recyclable polyethylene film waste PER ACRE that farmers must pay to remove and landfill at season's end (Grantham, 2011).
Why Are Biodegradable Mulch Films Better for the Environment?
Biodegradable agricultural mulch made from bioplastics are tested by scientifically sound standards that prove the material will biodegrade completely. At the end of a growing season, these mulch films do not have to be removed; they can be safely tilled into the soil, where they will safely decompose with other organic material.
This represents a significant labor- and cost savings for farmers, which helps make agriculture more sustainable and keeps non-recyclable polyethylene ag films out of landfills.
What Can You Do to Help?
It is important to petition the NOSB and let them know that Biodegradable Mulch Films should be added to the National List.
1. Become aware of the issues & the status of the petition. Bookmark and follow these two websites:
Add your email address and we will send you periodic information about the BPI's efforts to petition the USDA-NOSB to include certified compostable films on the National List of approved products.