PLA / Polylactic acid, Polyactide

Lactic acid polymers were synthesised almost 80 years ago (1932, Wallace Hume Carothers, DuPont). For a long time, the use of PLA plastics was limited to the medical sector due to the expensive production of the polymer. Commercial plants for the production of the thermoplastic were not built until 1994.

Polylactic acid is an aliphatic (hydrocarbon base chain) polyester with good mechanical and physical properties. PLA plastics are characterised by high strength, transparency, clarity and gloss. The density is 1.25 g/cm³. Oriented PLA film can be folded like paper, is odourless and has a high resistance to grease and oil. PLA is suitable for packaging dry products with a shorter shelf life.

But due to poor oxygen, CO2 and water permeability, it is not suitable for carbonated drinks or other liquids. It does not fog up when packaging fresh products and the printability is comparable to PET.

PLA and its copolymers are biodegradable. However, the required conditions are usually only met in industrial composting plants. In the wild or in garden compost, they do not decompose or decompose poorly.

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