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Poly L Lactic Acid Biopolymer

Changing the way we think about the world and the way we protect it is more important than ever. The materials we use are arguably the foundations of a greener and healthier world; from clothing materials to scientific and architectural materials, each is as important as the other. Goodfellow are proud supporters of the efforts contributing towards a greener planet. Goodfellow Green Production uses environmentally friendly products and processes to conserve energy and protect natural resources, and one of these products is Poly L Lactic Acid Biopolymer.

Poly L Lactic Acid Biopolymer is a melt-processable semi-crystalline thermoplastic made by biological fermentation from renewable carbohydrate feedstocks. Poly L Lactic Acid (PLA) is produced by polymerisation through what is known as lactide formation. Lactide is a product of Lactic Acid and is produced by bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates, such as sucrose or glucose. PLA has a high crystallinity of around 60-70%, making it a stiff polymer with mechanical properties that are similar to those of Polystyrene.

Polylactic Acid has multiple applications, which include:

  • Food packaging – PLA is actually the most used biopolymer for food packaging applications
  • Biodegradable containers, such as shampoo bottles
  • Coatings for paper and cardboard
  • Coatings for sutures and gauzes
  • Coatings for medicines
  • Envelope windows
  • Floral wrap

The renewable resources involved in creating PLA vary depending on where it is being made. For example, if it is made in Asia it is likely to be made from cassava roots or chips. In the USA, it is likely made from corn starch. Traditional plastics can take hundreds of years to degrade, and even the process of melting them down and recycling them produces volatile organic compound fumes that are harmful to the natural world. With this in mind, it’s important for manufacturers to determine where they can implement the right changes, such as opting for green materials and using only what is necessary for product packaging. Landfills are composed of around 35% of packaging materials; however, if the right initiatives are taken, this could easily be reduced!

For more information on Goodfellow’s Green Production programme or to discuss the PLA products Goodfellow offer, please get in touch with the team.