"Slimming Down Agriculture's Plastic Diet"

April 17, 2012

How do the anaerobic conditions of a landfill affect how plastic and alternatives to plastic mulch break down?  This is a question that Ecological Engineering undergraduate Courtney Holley hopes to address. 

Her project, which is funded by OSU’s Undergraduate Research, Innovation, Scholarship and Creativity Grant, is part of a parent project funded by the EPA’s People, Prosperity and Planet (P3) Grant.  The parent project involves an interdisciplinary team of professors, graduate students and undergraduates, who are working on developing an alternative to plastic, or biodegradable plastics, using discarded flax and wool.  Team members include BEE’s Isaiah Miller, Dusty DeGeorge, Jessica Keil and Kara DiFrancesco, as well as others from Geosciences, Material Science and Horticulture. 

Aside from Courtney’s experiment, the project is evaluating tensile strength testing, compositing, and measuring the ability of the mulch to retain soil heat and moisture.  Project members are developing a promotional video, and will be presenting their project, along with other P3 grant recipients, at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington DC April 20-22.