Bioplastics - definition, origin and advantages

According to the "European Bioplastic" association, a plastic is defined as a bioplastic if the material is bio-based or biodegradable or if it has both of these properties.

There are following main groups:

  • Bio-based or partially bio-based but not biodegradable plastics such as bio-based PE, PP or PET and bio-based technical performance polymers such as PTT or TPC-ET;
  • Plastics that are both bio-based and biodegradable, such as PLA and PHA or PBS;
  • Plastics that are based on fossil resources but biodegradable like PBAT.

PLA (Poly Lactic Acid; also Polylactid) is both bio-based and biodegradable, This type of plastic is derived from bio-based, renewable resources such as sugar cane, corn or bitter cassava. weforyou uses primarily sugar cane for its production, as we deliberately avoid genetically modified raw materials and the use of staple food. Moreover, we use sugar cane from Thailand for our weforyou PLA production as in Thailand, sugar cane can grow naturally under ideal conditions. Sugar cane is a perennial plant that forms grass with stems up to seven meters high and five centimeters thick with sugar stores with 7 to 20 percent sucrose.

Due to the special material properties, PLA can be used for a wide variety of markets and industries. These include, for example, food packaging, consumer goods, medical products, food packaging, fibers and nonwovens, but also countless other areas of application.

Polylactid (PLA) wird hergestellt, indem aus stärke- oder zuckerhaltigen Ausgangsmaterialien gewonnene Milchsäure polymerisiert wird. Das Verfahren ist komplex, aber inzwischen deutlich kostengünstiger und benötigt weniger Energie als noch vor wenigen Jahren.
Polylactide (PLA) is produced by polymerizing lactic acid obtained from starchy or sugary raw materials. The process is complex, but is now significantly cheaper and requires less energy than just a few years ago.

At weforyou, we do not use PLA from staple foods in our production and only use non-GMO raw materials.

Life Cycle of PLA

The PLA lifecycle is based on a sustainable closed cycle system, because PLA products are reusable, recyclable and can be incorporated into a new product lifecycle at the end of their lifespan. PLA offers industry a high-quality material flow and is able to use raw materials more efficiently and reduce material waste before, during and after processing.

The PLA cycle includes the following possible stations:

  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Waste incineration and thus energy generation (also carbon dioxide neutral due to its bio-based content)
  • Compostable and biodegradable as soon as it interacts directly with the environment
  • Recovery of raw materials

PLA is characterized by its good processability and is thus currently one of the most popular biopolymers on the market. High quality PLA can partially or even completely replace LDPE, HDPE, PP, PA, PS and PET. Amongst orthers, even PVC shrink films and PVC cards can be replaced by PLA.

In contrast to conventional plastics, bio-based plastic products save fossil resources through the use of biomass, which is constantly regenerating. Moreover, they stand out due to their CO2 neutrality.

Did you know?
The production of one tonne PLA from sugar cane is much more efficient than the production of one tonne of PLA from corn: 0.37 hectares of maize are needed, while only 0.16 hectares of sugar cane are needed.

Biodegradable bioplastics support our mission to offer sustainable alternatives to fossil resources and thus for working for a clean planet.

Source: european-bioplastics.org

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