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The Essential Link Between Agriculture, Food Security and Plastic Pollution

Agriculture, a fundamental pillar of global food security, is today facing a major challenge: land and sea plastic pollution. This threat puts considerable pressure on the quality of soil and water tables, thereby affecting the sustainability of our food supply.

In 2020, the World Bank revealed that 17 coastal countries in West Africa released no less than 6.9 million tonnes of plastic waste into marine ecosystems . The economic and environmental consequences of plastic pollution in West Africa are alarming, with damages estimated between $10,000 and $33,000 per ton. This pollution not only affects fishing and maritime tourism, but it also has repercussions on biodiversity and ecosystems.

In addition, the burning of plastic waste in fields hinders the growth of plants and seeds, while animals, such as cows, goats and sheep, suffer negative impacts by ingesting this waste.

Faced with this pressing problem, what role can agricultural businesses play? It is imperative that the current linear model, based on the production, consumption and rejection of plastic, evolves towards a circular plastic economy model. Such a model could significantly reduce plastic waste, by 40 to 50%, or 2.9 to 3.8 million tonnes, by 2026. This reduction would also have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse, reducing CO2 emissions by 30 to 60%. (Ministry of Ecological Transition, April 2022)

A recent FAO report ("Assessment of agricultural plastics and their sustainability: A call for action," 2021) highlights the fact that cultivated land is well more polluted by plastic than beaches and oceans. Once in the environment, these plastic products fragment and last for several centuries. It is alarming that almost 80% of the 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic produced until 2015 were not disposed of properly. (UN, December 2021).

These numbers are surprising. Indeed, “The largest users of plastic products are the agriculture and livestock sectors which consume around 10 million tonnes per year and that's a number "important because it's about 3% of global plastic production."

A total ban on plastics is currently impossible in the absence of viable alternatives, but solutions exist to minimize the damage caused by these materials. The "Reduction, Reuse, Recycling" offers promising avenues. These include promoting alternative products and practices such as cover crops to replace plastic mulch films, as well as the use of reusable and durable products, such as glass and heavy-duty plastic covers for greenhouses. , helps reduce dependence on plastic.

Agriculture, the foundation of food security, is facing a major challenge: plastic pollution. This has serious economic and environmental impacts.

However, agricultural businesses can play a key role in adopting a circular plastic economy model. Alternatives exist to reduce dependence on plastic and reuse it for new usages. Urgent action is needed to preserve our agricultural land, the environment and long-term food security.

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