As Canada shifts towards its plastic ban, Polylactic Acid (PLA) has become an interesting eco-friendly alternative. But what is PLA? How does it differ from normal plastic?
Read on to learn more!
How Do You Make It?
PLA is a thermoplastic made of renewable, plant-based sources. The sugars in the plant materials ferment and are introduced to a chemical reaction to create larger molecules.
The resulting filaments are soft when hot, and hard when they cool. Unlike traditional plastics, when heated to its melting point, this material becomes a liquid instead of burning! You can form the material in a number of ways, from casting, injection molding, and spinning it into a filament.
PLA vs Normal Plastic
Most normal plastics use a petroleum oil base rather than the natural sources PLA uses. Additionally, it’s biodegradable! This biodegradable component makes it a truly circular material, and helps contribute to a more circular economy.
A PLA bottle left in the ocean would typically degrade in six to 24 months. Compared to conventional plastics (which in the same environment can take several hundred to a thousand years to degrade) this is truly phenomenal.Source
In addition to this, it’s also usable as a filament for 3D printing! Using it in 3D printed packaging can not only help reduce the amount of plastic used for packaging, but can also help you add customization and personalization.
Uses of PLA
Now you know what this alternative packaging material is–how can you use it? Its common packaging uses include cups, cutlery, lids, and straws! You can also use PLA to insulate packaging for cold food transit.
Since the material is biodegradable and plant-based, it’s a food-safe option! While it’s ideal for cold items, it’s not a great choice for hot foods or drinks. It’s permeable and more prone to oxidization, so long-term food storage is not ideal.
As we mentioned, this material is biodegradable and compostable. Though these disposal options are possible for PLA, your local waste facility might not accept it. We’ve talked about how to dispose of various common household and food packaging items, but since PLA is fairly new, not every waste facility may be able to properly dispose of it.
Why Should Your Business Consider PLA?
Overall, this is a great option for those looking to make the switch from traditional plastic. Especially with Canada banning single use plastics hopefully by the end of 2022, it’s a great eco-friendly option.
LeKAC is currently working to expand our range of products to include PLA! Not sure if it’s right for your business? Contact us today to connect with one of our knowledgeable packaging consultants who can help you learn more!