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Environment and circular economy transition in China


Mulch film is used in agriculture for soil warming, improving moisture retention, suppressing weeding and shortening the growth cycle of crops. At present, China is the world’s largest country in the amount of mulch film used with approx. 1.5 million tons. Despite the positive economic effect, the used film also generates large amounts of plastic waste due to its short lifecycle. With the remained film on fields, destroying the soil structure, hindering the transmission of water and fertilizer, and affecting machinery operation. Moreover, the pollution with mulch film residues leads to a significant reduction of crop yields and endangers the health of livestock and humans.


The management of plastic mulch film in China by enhancing the recycling efficiency of PE mulch film and promoting the utilization of biodegradable mulch film is improved.


The project works towards a solution of the mulch film problem in two ways: By upgrading the management of mulch film and by promoting the utilization of biodegradable film.

Polyethylene (PE) mulch film:

  • Development of a tracking system to collect and record the production information and recycling-friendly recipe
  • Application of the tracking technology and demonstration for PE film recycling for maize in Gansu province
  • Provision of technical solutions for enhanced PE film recycling considering economic and environmental aspects

Biodegradable mulch film:

  • Demonstration in Heilongjiang province for rice, in Inner Mongolia for potato and in Beijing for strawberry
  • Monitoring and analysis of the application of biodegradable film
  • Elaboration of the biodegradable film application specifications for different crops, considering films’ characteristics, geographic and climate condition, as well as agronomic technique etc.
  • Formulation of laboratory testing methodology and certification criteria for biodegradable film

For both PE and biodegradable mulch film:

  • Policy recommendations and standards making
  • Awareness-raising and capacity building for policymakers, quality certifiers, producing and recycling enterprises as well as exchanges with international stakeholders

Expected outputs

  1. Recycling rate of PE film is increasing, indicating overall improvement in plastics management as a result of the tracking system application
  2. The risks of contamination/impact on products’ quality as well as the functionality of the biodegradable film will be proofed in order to promote it standardization and utilization

Commissioned by

Implemented by

In Cooperation with



Ms. HOU Jingyue
Project Manager

Sino-German Project for Upgrading Plastics Management in Agriculture