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bioplastics (pla)

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142 results
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Bioplastic is a form of plastic fabric that is made from renewable sources. This is not the case for regular plastic as it is made of non-renewable fossil fuels. These renewable materials might be vegetable oils and fats, corn starch, wood fibers or recycled food waste.

There are two most common examples of bioplastics. One is called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). This one is usually made from microorganisms – which might be genetically engineered. It can be used in medical equipment or as a coating for the inside of paper cups. 

The second one is polylactic acid (PLA). It is made from sugars found in corn or sugarcane. PLA can be used in food packaging, plastic bottles or clothing. It is also the cheapest bioplastic currently available.

And as the title suggests, PLA is the bioplastic we'll be chatting about. Do you first want to check what kind of fashion goods are made out of this material? 🧐 We don't blame you. We'd be curious too!

Bioplastic (PLA) is made during the fermentation process of renewable sources like corn starch, sugarcane or cassava. The process of making bioplastic (PLA) is a bit complicated. But don't worry. There is no need to start looking for your old chemistry notebook from high school. We'll keep it short.

The renewable material, after being mixed with acid or enzymes, is heated. This makes it break down into smaller parts and produce dextrose (aka sugar). Then, the sugar is fermented to create L-lactic acid. L-what? Simply, it's the main component of bioplastic (PLA). 

Sit tight because we are going to reach our bioplastic destination soon.

The last step is transforming this lactic acid into something that looks like a long chain of carbon molecules. They are quite similar to those found in their fossil counterparts. So, that's why bioplastic (PLA) looks and behaves similarly to petroleum-based plastic.

Bioplastic (PLA) can be used for shopping bags, the soles of your sneakers or other parts of your footwear. Yup, it can be used to make heels, sandals or flip-flops. And it can be found in the frames of sunglasses too!

Bioplastic (PLA) is very lightweight, breathable, water-repellent and also resistant to sunlight.

The main difference between bioplastic (PLA) and regular plastic is the material it is made of. As you already know, regular plastic is made from fossil fuels. On the other hand, PLA is made from renewable materials.

The production of bioplastics also produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than regular plastics. But is this material as sustainable as it gets? Let's find out.

Bioplastic (PLA) has many sustainability advantages over regular plastic. For instance, bioplastic (PLA) is independent of fossil fuels. Yet, there are some disadvantages too. Just like with every material. 

Even though bioplastic (PLA) is biodegradable, it doesn't mean it will simply biodegrade in your garden. Or in our oceans. So, if it finds its way into nature, it can take plenty of years to break down. 

Also, the renewable material used to make bioplastic (PLA) can come from crops that are treated with pesticides. 

But there is no perfect-in-all-ways material available to us. Just yet – let's aim high, shall we? 😉 So until then, don't be too harsh on yourself. Know that wearing bioplastic, instead of regular plastic, is a step in the right direction. And every step counts!

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