Polylactide (PLA)

The material. Polylactide (PLA) is a biodegradable thermoplastic derived from natural lactic acid from corn, maize, or milk. It resembles clear poly­styrene and provides good aesthetics (gloss and clarity), but it is stiff and brittle and needs modification using plasticizers for most practical applica­tions. It can be processed like most thermoplastics into fibers, films, ther – moformed, or injection molded.

Cargill Dow polylactide food packaging.

Ecoproperties: material

Embodied energy, primary production

52

– 54

MJ/kg

CO2 footprint, primary production

*2.3

– 2.43

kg/kg

Water usage

*100

– 300

l/kg

Ecoproperties: processing

Polymer molding energy

*8.61

– 9.49

MJ/kg

Polymer molding CO2

*0.68

– 0.75

kg/kg

Polymer extrusion energy

*3.35

– 3.69

MJ/kg

Polymer extrusion CO2

*0.26

– 0.29

kg/kg

Recycling

Embodied energy, recycling

21.8

– 22.7

MJ/kg

CO2 footprint, recycling

*0.96

– 1.02

kg/kg

Recycle fraction in current supply

*0.5

– 1

%

Recycle mark

Other

Typical uses. Food packaging, plastic bags, plant pots, diapers, bottles, cold drink cups, sheet and film.