Reducing the use of single use plastics in food production: Impacts on productivity, pests and disease

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Lancaster Environment Centre


The use of single use and short life-span plastics has received a lot of media attention in the last 12 months. Ultimately plastics we dispose of can end up in soils, water courses and oceans. In October the EU voted to ban a number of single use plastics such as drinking straws and charging for plastic carrier bags was introduced in England in 2015 in efforts to reduce plastic waste.
The amount of plastics used in packaging our food has been a focus of media attention to date but in reality plastic is used throughout the food production process. In the growth of fresh produce it has a wide range of uses including in polytunnels, fleeces and netting. In many cases these plastics are single use or have a lifespan limited to a few years. The use of these plastics produces large amounts of plastic waste which the fresh produce industry is seeking to reduce.
This project will work towards reducing the use of single use and short life-span plastics in fresh produce production by addressing the following aims:
-To investigate the extent of use of single use or short life-span plastics in the production of a range of crops and to assess when they are used.
-To investigate what alternatives are available or where life spans can be increased in some of these roles and to conduct field trials to assess impacts on productivity, quality and pests and disease
-To establish whether alternatives to plastics can be implemented in a cast effective manner.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/T508871/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023
2277392 Studentship BB/T508871/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Sam Cusworth