Polylactic acid (PLA) is an ecological bioplastic that can be used to obtain "green" materials for food packaging.PLA is a thermoplastic polymer with a glass transition temperature of approximately 60°C. In addition, it has good gas barrier properties, is non-toxic, biodegradable, biocompatible, and is approved by It is non-toxic, biodegradable, biocompatible, and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, PLA is considered an environmentally friendly alternative to PET.
These properties are important for applications in food packaging and are often considered indicators of plasticization-induced changes. Such results can be readily observed when plasticizers are added to the polymer, as they penetrate between the polymer chains and reduce the forces that lead to the overall cohesion of the polymer.
The reduction in this property makes the system more suitable for food packaging.
Due to its semi-crystalline structure, PLA exhibits a high melt viscosity, which makes it difficult to process. In general, all plasticizers used to improve the processability of PLA, a result that can be explained by the good miscibility of the components.
The addition of plasticizers in PLA affects the wettability of the final material. For example, pure PLA has a highly hydrophobic surface, but often the presence of plasticizers helps to increase its hydrophilicity
For example, pure PLA has a highly hydrophobic surface, but the presence of plasticizers usually helps to increase its hydrophilicity.
A 0.5mm thick film of PLA with full plasticizers maintains the same good transparency as pure PLA.
PLA production uses 65% less energy than the production of conventional plastics, produces 68% fewer greenhouse gases, and contains no toxins. It can also remain environmentally friendly if proper end-of-life protocols are followed.
PLA currently has four common end-of-life scenarios.
The scrap may contain contaminants, but PLA can be chemically recycled by thermal depolymerization or hydrolysis to form a monomer that can then be made into virgin PLA. PLA can also be chemically recycled by an ester exchange reaction to produce methyl lactate.
Industrial composting conditions allow for chemical hydrolysis followed by microbial digestion to degrade PLA.
End-of-life PLA can be incinerated, and PLA is 100% combustible, so clean energy can be obtained from the waste.
Although PLA can enter landfills, this is the least environmentally friendly option because the material degrades very slowly at ambient temperatures.
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