Polylactic acid is a slow biodegradable plastic and biocompatible thermoplastic which can be produced by fermentation from renewable resources. It can also be synthesized either by condensation polymerization of lactic acid or by ring-opening polymerization of lactide in the presence of a catalyst. The manufacture of PLA from lactic acid was pioneered by Carothers in 1932. Ecological studies on the abundance of PLA-degrading microorganisms in different environments have confirmed that PLA-degraders are not widely distributed, and thus it is less susceptible to microbial attack compared to other microbial and synthetic aliphatic polymers. The degradation of PLA in the soil is slow and that takes a long time for degradation to start.
It is important to understand PLA, while it is a bio-resin having many disadvantages in the environment. It does have microorganisms that consume it, but it lacks the number of microbes found in the natural environment to biodegrade.
Many companies and scientists have found that PLA can’t compost in the majority of compostable sites found within India. That is why many composting companies reject their disposal in compost facilities. This combined with the rejection of the USDA for organic compost leaves far behind in a sustainable future for society. PLA does have the ability to be consumed by microbes in anaerobic environments, it also can be broken down in landfills which are the natural disposal method of consumer-based plastic products.
Landfills can capture 60-90% of the methane that is produced and create the power to heat our homes, of the 60-90% based on EPA reports less than 5% of the methane is released into the environment after treatment of this method. Currently, several Landfills in India capture methane gas and convert it into energy. Less than 5 compost facilities can compost PLA products in India.
For more information on enhancing the biodegradation of plastic, Contact Oxygreen Plastics.