The Dangers of Plastic Netting

— Written By and last updated by Elisabeth Purser
en Español / em Português

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Snake Caught in Plastic Netting Did you know that plastic netting is commonly embedded in turf sod and erosion control blankets? This plastic netting is causing harm in our environment, especially to our wildlife. Recently, a large black snake was trapped and injured by this plastic netting here in Union County. While the snake was freed, it probably died from the significant injuries it received. Plastic netting frequently traps and kills snakes, birds, and other wildlife. Rat Snakes, and other snakes, are important to our environment as they keep rodent populations under control. The plastic netting can also get trapped in lawn mowers and weed whackers, making yard work more difficult. 

These products containing plastic netting often claim that the plastic netting is biodegradable, which is untrue. Plastic netting is photo-degradable at best, taking years to disintegrate when exposed to direct sunlight, but when it does, it is only breaking down into microplastics which still contaminate our environment and may negatively affect human health. Microplastics have now been found on the summit of Mount Everest, in our deepest oceans, in our food, in our drinking water, in the air we breathe, and even in the bloodstream of humans.

What can you do? Ensure that any sod or any erosion control blankets you or your contractor use contain absolutely 0% polyurethane or other plastic. Good quality erosion control blankets, certified to meet engineering specifications, can be found that only contain coconut fiber, straw, wood excelsior, and other natural fibers. Many products have misleading names that suggest they are environmentally friendly, but still contain plastic netting so you have to dig deep into the details. If you are installing turf, ensure the sod has no plastic netting or consider seeding your lawn. Avoiding products with plastic netting is better for wildlife, better for the environment, and better for you.