Polylactic Acid (PLA): Improve It, Use It, and Dump It Faster

Narongrit Sombatsompop, Panupong Srimalanon, Teerasak Markpin, Benjaphorn Prapagdee

Abstract


Today, many people enjoy an easy lifestyle. However, this comfort has come with a price because of plastic that is thrown away after a single use. As such, governments around the world have pushed for biodegradable plastics to be produced, especially for food packaging, and these can be easily seen in supermarkets, for example. Using plastic for only one time has resulted in environmental pollution. To solve this problem, polylactic acid (PLA) has been introduced as an alternative bio-based plastic to replace artificial petroleum-based plastics. PLA comes from renewable resources and is biodegradable under certain conditions. Furthermore, the development of the properties of PLA could solve problems related to its weakness in packaging applications. This editorial proposes expansion of the property attributes of PLA to include hygienic character, through the addition of antibacterial agents. This can be done by introducing two alternative approaches for waste management: PLA recycling and degradation. However, some key research is still needed to improve the properties and waste management of PLA relative to the effectiveness of its reprocessing and acceleration of its (bio)degradation.

Keywords


Polylactic acid; PLA waste management; Biodegradation; Packaging

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