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RENEWABLE AND ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY POLYLACTIDE (PLA)
V. Ryan © 2011
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Polymers / plastics have a reputation of being
environmentally unfriendly. They take years and in some cases centuries to
decay. However, plastic bags made from Polylactide (PLA) take only five
years to decompose. Containers such as drinking bottles and food
containers manufactured from PLA, take slightly longer to decay, as they
are manufactured from thinker material.
Polylactide (PLA), is a renewable thermoplastic and a polymer. It is
‘processed’ from the starch of plants such as corn, sugar cane and sugar
beet, making it environmentally friendly and sustainable. Fermentation of
the sugars from these plants produces lactic acid and after further
reactions, lactide forms. After more processing and polymerisation,
polylactide resin is produced. The resulting resin can be injection and
blow moulded, to form disposable products including those shown below.
Polylactide is biodegradable, as it decays as a result of exposure to the ultra violet rays of sunlight and oxygen. It decomposes forming carbon dioxide and water, which present no danger to the environment.
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