Eco-Friendly Product : PLA

Why do people care about the environment?

  • Petroleum supplies are dwindling while demand for oil-based goods is rising
    • For every 4 barrels used, only 1 new barrel discovered
    • Supplies to run short within the next 20 to 100 years
    • Shell Oil out of reserves in 10.2 years, Fortune, May 17th, 2007
  • Without a sustainable solution, the earth’s resources cannot meet the needs of its human population.
What is PLA
  • PLA stands for Polylactic Acid and is the chemical name of a plastic made from corn, an annually renewable resource.
  • At the end of life, PLA based products can be recycled or composted under commercial composting conditions 90% within 60 days and balance within 90 days.
  • PLA is highly transparent when unmodified. However, PLA has the disadvantage of unable to handle high temperatures over 40°C.
  • However, can expose to heat up to 100°C with a performance tradeoff is in that crystallization process turns PLA into a tan opaque color.

Production of PLA

The Lifecycle of PLA

Decomposing Illustration
Requirements of composting conditions:
  • Right temperature (60°C)
  • Right humidity (>80°C)
  • Right micro-organism

Features of PLA


Abrasion Resistance


Color Stability




Liquid Resistance

Oil and Water

Oxidation Resistant




Production Energy Required


  • Dwindling Petroleum supplies: while consumption is increasing.
  • Increasing price of crude oil.
  • Imposed by legislation: in some countries (e.g. Taiwan, South Korea) some food packing has to be compostable.
  • Exemption to pay a contribution for recycling : products which comply with EN13432 are exempt from paying contribution.
  • Part of a strategy to achieve a green image increasing environmental consciousness of the general public.
  • Limiting environmental impact:
    • less green house gases produced
    • compostable
Application of PLA
  • Food packaging
  • Disposable tableware