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Plastic used in Fertilizer Industry

Plastic used in Fertilizer Industry

Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, Marathwada Campus Jalna.

The main objective of employing various types of plastic (packaging material) in the fertilizer sector is to meet the specific needs of the fertilizer being packaged. Plastic is also utilised to make fertilizer-related equipment, in addition to packaging. Fertilizers are made by a variety of companies all over the world, and while their formulas may differ, their packing materials are very similar.

The primary goal in choosing an appropriate material for fertilizer packaging is to ensure that the fertilizer chemical does not lose its properties due to reactions with environmental exposures such as moisture, reactive gases, and biological factors such as fungal growth, among others. To accomplish this, the packaging material should be chemically stable in normal natural circumstances, recyclable, and inexpensive. The packaging material used must have some properties which are important because lack of these properties can affect the fertilizer or it can react with the plastic packaging material and can contaminate the product. The properties of these materials should be durable, flexible, waterproof, surface non-reactant, cost-efficient and eco-friendly.

The type of fertilizer packaging includes polyethylene derivatives such as LDPE, LLDPE, and HDPE Other derivatives include burlap, cloth, and PP woven bags; however, while cloth and burlap do not contain plastic material, the PP woven bag does contain polypropylene, which is also a type of plastic material used in the fertilizer industry. The PE material is used because of its exceptional qualities such as flexibility, durability, water resistance, tear resistance, and leak resistance. Although almost all PE materials almost contain the same composition, their properties differ for example LDPE (low density polyethylene) consist of short, branched chains that are evenly distributed throughout the polymer structure. HDPE (high density polyethylene) has produced by very less branching during the process of polymerization; HDPE is used for heavy loads safely and easily as it is tear resistant polymer. LLDPE (linear low-density polyethylene) production requires significantly less energy than LDPE. LLDPE is used whenever it is necessary to produce bags with a thickness less than LDPE. Nowadays, the most common bags used in the market for fertilizer packaging are LLDPE.

Because of the polypropylene strips that are waved into one another, PP woven bags are noted for their extreme strength. These bags are incredibly cost effective, and they also let air to circulate inside the bag, preventing it from expanding due to fertilizer gas production.

Many fertilizer companies utilise PP woven bags for packaging because of their qualities. BOPP stands for Biaxially oriented zolypropylene – modified version of PP. BOPP bags are long-lasting and easy to use because the polypropylene is stretched in a machine and in a transverse orientation, it provides excellent resistance to dirt, moisture, and contaminants.

Aside from industry, agricultural plastics such as ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer (EVC), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polycarbonate are used for a variety of applications such as crop shielding, UV filtering, and so on. Though plastic is used in these Fertilizer bags it can be recycled, allowing the plastic to be reused. The bag has been emptied, but it still contains traces of the fertilizer material, which is not harmful if it is used with precautions.

Proper disposal of these packaging bags is critical, however due to a lack of awareness, this material is generating major environmental problems. These plastic packaging materials will be replaced in the future with dissolvable packaging, which could be a more Environmentally Friendly option. Nano fertiliser synthesis is also a major research issue; thus, a more particular packing material will be needed to ensure that the Nanoparticles do not decay and can be stored for a significant duration.

Acknowledgement – Firstly, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Prof. Dr. Girish M. Joshi sir for inspiring and mentoring me to accomplish this article. I would also like to convey my gratitude to the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, Marathwada Campus Jalna.

Sarika Ravindra kulkarni – is a student at ICT, Mumbai, Marathwada campus Jalna, pursuing an Integrated MTech in chemical engineering with a minor in material science. Currently working as a student Intern at Century Pulp and Paper, Lalkuan, Uttarakhand.

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