Environmental village regulations matter: Mulch film recycling in rural China

Chang Li, Mingxing Sun, Xiangbo Xu, Linxiu Zhang, Jianbing Guo, Yuhan Ye

Farmland plastic pollution is increasing with the use of agricultural mulch film. An empirical study focused on smallholder farmers with national representative samples. National representative micro-level data was used to explore the effect of village regulations. Village regulations have significant direct and indirect positive effects on mulch film recycling.

Journal Title: Journal of Cleaner Production

Volume/Issue/Page: 2021, 299, 126796

Published Time: May 2021


The extensive use and ineffective management of agricultural mulch film in agricultural production have caused serious plastic pollution, thus, mulch film recycling is necessary. Previous studies have shown that formal institutions have a significant impact on mulch film recycling; however, the effect of informal institutions, which have a significant impact on pro-environmental behaviors, remains less explored. In this paper, 12058 pieces of cultivated land data from five representative provinces in China were used to study the impact mechanisms of environmental village regulations, a representative informal institution, on mulch film recycling behavior, by using the Probit model, Heckman two-stage model, and mediation effect model. The results indicated that there are both direct impact and indirect impact mechanisms of environmental village regulations on mulching film recycling. The environmental village regulations had a significant direct positive effect on the recycling of mulch film. In addition, the environmental village regulations had a significant indirect positive impact on mulch film recycling through the selection of mulch film with different thicknesses and the number of days the mulch film was used. Based on the findings, our recommendation is that specific environmental village regulations should be established in all villages to promote mulch film recycling. In addition, the government should further regulate the manufacturing, sale, and use of plastic mulch film. 

Corresponding author: Xiangbo Xu,

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