Container-crops horticultural industries rely almost exclusively on petroleum-based plastic containers for modern production systems. Containers made of these materials fulfill all of the functions required during crop production, and perform better than containers made of clay, peat, and other natural materials, but the source of the plastic materials (fossil carbon), their lack of biodegradability, and their end-of-life disposal (97% end up in landfills) are major obstacles to sustainability. Although function and efficiency are among the most important aspects in determining the best materials for horticultural containers, there is no need for containers to persist in the environment for decades when their useful life cycle is only one month to three years depending on the plant species produced in them.
Iowa State University
Schrader, James; McCabe, Kenneth; Graves, William; and Grewell, David, "Function and Biodegradation in Soil of Bioplastic Horticultural Containers made of PLA-BioResTM Composites" (2015). Iowa State Research Farm Progress Reports. 2156.