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Basics processed on

Basics processed on existing machinery without modification. PLA and PLAblends are available in granulate form, and in various grades, for use by plastics converters in the manufacture of film, moulded parts, drinks containers, cups, bottles and other everyday items. In addition to short life packaging film or deep drawn products (e.g. beverage or yoghurt pots, fruit, vegetable and meat trays) the material also has great potential for use in the manufacture of durable items. Examples here are casings for mobile phones, possibly reinforced with natural fibres, desktop accessories, lipstick tubes, and lots more. Even in the automotive industry we are seeing the first series application of plastics based on PLA. Some Japanese car manufacturers have developed their own blends which they use to produce dashboards, door tread plates, etc. (see bM 02/2008). Fibres spun from PLA are even used for textile applications, because PLA offers several interesting benefits over the traditional polyester fiber material, PET, and cotton. On the market we can already find all kinds of textiles from articles of clothing through children’s shoes to car seat covers. Furthermore there are lucrative special markets, for example in medical and pharmaceutical applications where PLA has been successfully used for decades. From screws etc. that are slowly resorbed into the body, to nails, implants and plates made from PLA or PLA copolymers, the parts are used to hold broken bones in place as they heal. The PLA is broken down within the body and assimilated by the human metabolism, so saving the patient the problem of a second surgery to remove the previously implanted parts. [1] Endres, H.-J., Siebert-Raths, A.: Engineering Biopolymers, Hanser Publsihers, 2011 [2] Patel, M.: Ökobilanzierung von Biopolymeren und biogenen Rohstoffen; 4. BioKunststoffe (conference), Hannover/ Germany, 12-13 April 2011 Uhde Inventa-Fischer will present more details on their PLA activities at the 2 nd PLA World C o n g r e s s 15 + 16 MAY 2012 * Munich * Germany Contact at Uhde Inventa-Fischer to get a 15% discount on the conference fee. organized by bM End of life Basically PLA is recyclable, biodegradable and compostable, and can be incinerated for energy recovery and accelerated carbon recycling. However, copolymers or blends of polylactides are rapidly, slowly, or not at all biodegradable, depending on their composition, morphology, geometry, and not in the least the environmental conditions. Whilst PLA is actually quite stable under typical, dry, indoor conditions for years, it can be degraded under industrial composting conditions in a few weeks. Blends of PLA with non-biodegradable plastics, such as PLA/PC, are commonly not biodegradable let alone compostable, but that is also not the purpose of such a durable compound. This underlines the special diversity of this bio-based bioplastic that can be used in a form that rapidly degrades in industrial composting, or, if required, in a more durable composition that can be used for years and will most likely be recycled or incinerated in the end. As soon as significant amounts of PLA can be collected, recycling becomes feasible and worthwile. That is why for instance brand owners like Danone encourage their competitors to use PLA, in order to achieve a critical mass for recycling as soon as possible. Besides material recycling, where PLA is ground up and reprocessed into new products, also chemical (or feedstock) recycling is possible. Here the PLA is converted back into lactide monomers and lactic acid, and can be used for PLA again or for completely different purposes. 56 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/12] Vol. 7

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