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What is PLA?

What is PLA?

Are you looking to learn more about bioplastics? PLA, or Polylactic Acid, is a bioplastic that has become increasingly popular in recent years due its environmental benefits. Throughout this post, we'll explore what PLA is and why it's becoming an increasingly attractive sustainable material to incorporate into products such as packaging and consumer goods. By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of the properties and potential applications for PLA so that you can make informed decisions when considering using this eco-friendly material for your product development needs!

What is PLA?

PLA, or Polylactic Acid, is a biodegradable and compostable material made from fermented plants such as corn. It's used to create items like food containers and packaging, straws, cutlery and cups. PLA is becoming increasingly popular with businesses due to its sustainability benefits – it can be reused or broken down quickly if disposed of correctly, avoiding a buildup of waste in the environment.

Additionally, the production process releases fewer toxins into the air than traditional plastics and takes less energy to produce. What's more, it's available in different colors and degrees of clarity which gives greater design possibilities for businesses looking to package their products while supporting their green initiatives.

How PLA is produced

PLA is a biodegradable plastic produced through a chemical process called polymerization. It begins with starch extracted from plants such as corn and sugarcane that is then transformed into lactic acid using an enzyme or bacteria. The lactic acid molecules are linked together to create long chains of the repeating PLA molecules.

This type of plastic has many benefits, from being an environmentally friendly source compared to petroleum-based plastics, to having physical characteristics that make it strong and durable for everyday uses. Thanks to the advancements in production techniques, PLA can now be produced easily and quickly in large volumes.

Advantages of PLA

One of the greatest things about PLA is that it is biodegradable, making it an ideal choice for those who care about the environment. Though this bioplastic does not degrade naturally in all conditions, when exposed to high heat and microorganisms in a composting setting, it breaks down much faster than traditional plastics.

Furthermore, its manufacture does not release harmful air pollutants or produce poisonous residues during its breakdown compared to other petrochemical-based plastics. It is also free from Bisphenol A which makes it safe for food products. 

Disadvantages of PLA

While there are plenty of benefits to using PLA, there are many noted disadvantages of using this material. Primarily, PLA is not biodegradable in its current form; further refinement is necessary for it to begin breaking down naturally over time.

Additionally, PLA deforms at temperatures that would make it unsuitable for carrying or consuming hot items or liquids. Lastly, PLA is more often than not a more expensive option than standard plastics.

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