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HomeNewsHow Long Does It Take for PLA to Biodegrade?——Let’s Find Out

How Long Does It Take for PLA to Biodegrade?——Let’s Find Out

2023-12-28
Departing from the conventional fossil fuel route, PLA champions sustainability, utilizing biomass resources and sharing traits with popular plastics. Do you know what does PLA mean?

Let’s dive into the biodegradable realm of PLA straws, learn the craft behind PLA straw production and explore the pros and cons of PLA versus paper straws, finding a harmonious balance between sustainability and performance. And finally, unravel the nuanced timeline of PLA's biodegradation ——a fascinating tale of industrial composting prowess. Join the sustainable revolution with PLA, where responsible choices lead to a greener, healthier planet.

How Long Does It Take for PLA to Biodegrade?

Unraveling the Meaning of PLA: What Does PLA Mean? 

Polylactic acid, abbreviated as PLA, stands as a remarkable thermoplastic monomer crafted from renewable sources like corn starch or sugar cane. Setting itself apart from traditional plastics, PLA's production journey begins with biomass resources rather than fossil fuels, ushering in a more sustainable era. Despite the divergence in raw materials, the magic of PLA lies in its adaptability—it can be manufactured using the same equipment as petrochemical plastics, ensuring a cost-efficient process. Holding the distinction of being the second most produced bioplastic, PLA shares similarities with conventional plastics like polypropylene, polyethylene, and polystyrene.

Are PLA Straws Biodegradable?

PLA straws, crafted from polylactic acid, indeed possess biodegradable qualities, making them a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic straws. Derived from renewable sources like corn starch or sugar cane, PLA straws decompose naturally over time, reducing the environmental impact associated with single-use plastics. As opposed to conventional plastic straws that persist in landfills and oceans for extended periods, PLA straws undergo biodegradation, breaking down into simpler, eco-friendly components. Embracing PLA straws aligns with the growing global movement towards sustainable and biodegradable alternatives, contributing to efforts aimed at minimizing plastic pollution and promoting a healthier planet.

How are PLA Straws Made?

The manufacturing process of PLA straws involves several steps to ensure a biodegradable and eco-friendly product. The main components, PLA and pulp extracted from corn, are chosen for their harmlessness to the human body and natural decomposition properties. The production method includes pulverizing the pulp and PLA pellets, mixing them, and heating the mixture to create a coating liquid. This coating solution is further enhanced with an additive containing corn starch, rice starch, gelatin, and polyethylene glycol acrylate. The next steps involve forming the inner peripheral surface of the straw by winding a pulp sheet around a rolling shaft, applying the coating liquid with the additive to the outer surface, and then drying the straw as it moves. Finally, the dried straw is cut into its desired length, resulting in a biodegradable and environmentally conscious alternative to traditional plastic straws.

How Long Does It Take for PLA to Biodegrade?

Pros and Cons of PLA: PLA Straws VS Paper Straws

The ongoing movement to ban plastic straws in favor of more eco-friendly options has spurred a comparison between PLA and paper straws. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons for each:

Paper Straws

1. Pros: 

  • Biodegradable and compostable, addressing environmental concerns. 
  • Decompose faster than plastic straws.
  • Support a healthier planet vision.

2. Cons:

  • Prone to losing shape and becoming soggy when wet.
  • May leave a taste from the glue used in production.
  • Require more energy and resources to manufacture compared to plastic straws.
  • Not always recyclable.
  • Coatings may impact decomposing time.

PLA Straws

1. Pros: 

  • Derived from renewable corn starch, making them a sustainable option.
  • Maintain integrity when wet, avoiding sogginess.
  • Typically more affordable than paper straws.
  • Various options available, including straight, flexible, cocktails, and cut-tip.

2. Cons: Manufacturing still requires energy, though less than traditional plastics.

In the debate between PLA and paper straws, PLA emerges as a strong contender, offering a balance between sustainability, performance, and cost-effectiveness.

How Long Does It Take for PLA to Biodegrade?

PLA is often touted as a biodegradable alternative, but the reality is more nuanced. While PLA is compostable, it undergoes biological degradation only in industrial composting plants under specific conditions. In these facilities, PLA can break down within a few days to months, provided temperatures range from 55-70℃. But in the wild or traditional disposal settings, PLA takes a minimum of 80 years to decompose, contributing to environmental pollution and microplastics. The Federal Environment Agency warns about increased environmental impacts if plastics are disposed of without adhering to specific composting conditions. Therefore, proper disposal methods are crucial to ensure the environmentally friendly potential of PLA.

Conclusion

In essence, PLA, derived from renewable sources, represents a sustainable shift in plastic production. PLA straws offer a biodegradable alternative, standing out for their eco-friendly nature. In the PLA vs. paper straws debate, PLA strikes a balance between sustainability and performance. However, it's crucial to note that PLA's biodegradability requires specific conditions, urging responsible disposal practices. If you want to learn more about PLA straws, come to Wonderfulcups and consulate our experts!

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