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Plastic Film Covering 12% of China's Farmland Pollutes Soil

  • Use of polyethylene mulch set to rise as farmers boost output
  • ‘White pollution’ accumulating in soil stifles cotton crops
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Chinese Farming's Problem With Plastic

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China will expand its agricultural use of environment-damaging plastic film to boost crop production even as authorities try to curb soil pollution, a government scientist said.

Some 1.45 million metric tons of polyethylene are spread in razor-thin sheets across 20 million hectares (49 million acres) — an area about half the size of California — of farmland in China. Use of the translucent material may exceed 2 million tons by 2024 and cover 22 million hectares, according to Yan Changrong, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.