Material PLA - Polylactide
PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic derived from lactic acid.

It resembles clear polystyrene, provides good aesthetics (gloss and clarity), but it is stiff and brittle and needs modifications for most practical applications (i.e. plasticizers increase its flexibility).

It can be processed like most thermoplastics into fibres, films, thermoformed or injection moulded.
Used for compost bags, plant pots, diapers and packaging.
Category Biopolymers
Products Compostable bag
Processes Most conventional plastic processes like:
Blow moulding
Injection moulding
Vacuum forming
Fibre spinning
References Neste Corporate Technology
Cargill Dow Polymers LLC
Price Current prices (1997) are between 40 and 70 DKK/kg.
Environmen- tal notes Creation: Lactic acid can be obtained on the basis of renewable starch containing resources (e.g. corn, wheat or sugar beat) by fermentation, or by chemical synthesis of non-renewable resources.

Disposal: If composted properly it takes 3-4 weeks for complete degradation.
The first stage of degradation (two weeks) is a hydrolisis to water soluble oligomers and lactic acid. The latter, as a naturally occurring substance, is a rapid metabolisation into CO2, water and biomass by a variety of micro-organisms.
Additional Info The future tendency is towards a sharp decrease of the price, thanks to the introduction of plants capable to mass-produce the material. Future prices are expected to fall to few times the price of PP (15-20 DKK/kg).
Photo Thomas Nissen (Computer graphics)
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