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- Author or Editor: Thomas L. Marsh x
To mitigate the environmental harm associated with the disposal of polyethylene (PE) (plastic) mulches after use—incineration, dumping at landfills, tilling into the soil, and onsite stockpiling—biodegradable plastic mulches (BDMs) are proposed as an environmentally friendly alternative. These mulches are designed to degrade in the field, thereby reducing negative impacts. We conducted discrete choice experiments to evaluate willingness to pay (WTP) for BDM attributes using data collected from a survey of stakeholders in the agricultural sector (e.g., farmers, crop advisors, educators, and others) in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Results obtained using a mixed logit model show that respondents assign the greatest value to BDM attributes that provide a price premium opportunity for the product grown, improve soil health, or reduce field-borne residue, thereby enhancing sustainability. We found heterogeneity in preferences for the attributes of plastic residue and soil health: the cost of BDMs is more important to nonfarmers and noncrop advisors, whereas soil health is more of a concern for crop advisors. In addition, respondents who are less risk averse and less sensitive to cost are more willing to adopt BDMs. Results from this study have implications regarding the best ways to introduce and support sustainable practices as a part of green technology in the agricultural sector, particularly for new BDM products.