1. GA-English

Environmental protection in Bonn: Strawberry foils litter the Meßdorfer Feld

Environmental protection in Bonn : Strawberry foils litter the Meßdorfer Feld

In our latitudes, asparagus and strawberries thrive under sheeting in the spring. If they are no longer needed, the plastic often flies around in the area. As is currently the case in the Meßdorf field - a topic for the environmental committee.

The first asparagus should be on the table by the beginning of May. Also hardly anyone wants to wait until June to finally eat strawberries from regional cultivation. There is usually a lack of natural warmth in early spring in this country so in order for customers to be able to enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables from the region's fields earlier, asparagus and strawberries ripen under film and they can be picked earlier. However, unused film is increasingly becoming an environmental problem.

As a rule, plastic tunnels are used for two years when growing strawberries. Ideally, the film is then collected and disposed of in accordance with regulations. However, the reality is often different. According to the city, plastic covers have been lying on a total of 43 plots between Lessenich and Dransdorf for two years and are apparently no longer being used. They become porous, gradually dissolve and the wind whirls the individual shreds around everywhere. It's a problem that walkers, residents and environmentalists have been complaining about for some time. Now the environmental committee will deal with this issue again.

Not a new situation

The situation is not new. Already in the past there were answers again and again that fragile foils in the landscape decay. But "currently, the scope of the affected fields is significantly larger," confirms Markus Schmitz from the press office. The problem: No one has to provide proof of proper disposal. "The general requirements for the proper disposal of plastics of the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act and the Commercial Waste Ordinance apply," explains the press office. Those who do not comply, however, can face very expensive penalties. Fines of up to 100,000 euros threaten in individual cases. Because, according to the administration, covers that have "exceeded their useful life or are torn" are waste that must be disposed of properly.

"For reasons of soil protection, aesthetic aspects and animal welfare, it is very important to properly collect and dispose of agricultural films after use," emphasizes Christian A. Möller (Greens), chairman of the environmental committee. For him, microplastics also enter the environment and thus the food chain through agricultural films. "Monitoring by the administration is therefore all the more important. The ultimate goal must be to use environmentally friendly agricultural films that can even be plowed under, if necessary, and insofar recycled as fertilizer after their actual use. However, their development is still in its infancy," Möller said.

"I am very glad that the city administration is taking care that the owners of the fields dispose of the plastic waste," also says SPD city councillor Gabi Mayer. "From the farmers around the Meßdorfer Feld, I would also wish with a view to landscape protection and a possible future organic cultivation, that they look for alternative ways. The city of Bonn, as an organic city, can also provide advice in this regard."

Longer a problem with litter

For city councillor Julia Polley (CDU), there has been a problem with litter since the outbreak of the pandemic, and not just in the Meßdorfer Feld landscape conservation area. "Unfortunately, we are experiencing an alarming regression from everything that concerns waste prevention. Especially when trash ends up in nature, it can cause the very worst damage," she says. By setting up additional as well as larger collection bins, she believes one could at least collect the "to-go packaging." However, you can't simply dispose of the growing films in the garbage can. "If they are no longer used and parts fly around uncontrolled in the landscape, then the administration must contact the tenants so that this waste is collected," she suggests.

However, proper disposal is not only required from an ecological point of view. A few years ago, remnants of strawberry foils got caught in a high-voltage line, leading to a power outage in Wesseling, Stephan Eickschen (SPD) reminds us of a more far-reaching problem. "So it's also about the safety of our infrastructure," he points out. In addition, he says, Meßdorfer Feld and its peripheral areas are a local recreation area for many. "And such foil remnants make for a bad appearance," he adds.

However, the administration does not look idly on. As soon as there are indications, the lower environmental authority becomes active. The owners of the plot are then requested to remove the plastic waste, according to the press office. Usually the farmers respond. Nevertheless, administrative staff are always on site. Those who have not removed the plastic remains must then expect trouble. "We are very pleased that the administration has become active and expressly welcome the procedure," explains Christian Möller.

(Original text: Gabriele Immenkeppel; Translation: Mareike Graepel)