Polylactic acid or polylactide (PLA) is a thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch (in the United States), tapioca roots, chips or starch (mostly in Asia), or sugarcane (in the rest of the world).
In 2010, PLA was the second most important bioplastic of the world in regard to consumption volume.
The name “poly(lactic acid)” does not comply with IUPAC standard nomenclature, and is potentially ambiguous or confusing, because PLA is not a polyacid (polyelectrolyte), but rather a polyester.
PLA was discovered in the 1920s by Wallace Corothers the scientist who invented nylon, but it never had been successfully commercialized on a large scale.
Polylactic Acid (PLA) is a bioplastic made from lactic acid and is used in the food industry to package sensitive food products.
However, PLA is too fragile and is not compatible with many packaging manufacturing processes. Therefore it should be strengthen with additives.
According to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC Standard), the name polylactic acid is not compliant to their nomenclature as PLA is not a polyacid but rather a polyester.
- Polylactic acid
The largest PLA producers are:
- NatureWorks (Joint-venture between Cargill (US) and PTT (Thailand))
- Total-Corbion (Joint-Venture between Total (Fr) and Corbion (NL)
- Mulch Films
- Tea bags
PLA is biocompatible and makes it a perfect choice for medical implants intended to be absorbed by the body. It takes between 6 months to two years for PLA to be absorbed by a human body. When PLA degrades in turns into lactic acid whin is non-toxic for a human body.
Advantages and Disadvantages of PLA
Check this video to know more about the advantages and disadvantages of PLA; or alternatively; read the following article: Advantages and Disadvantages of PLA