What is PLA?

All right, friends. Let’s do this. This section will cover basic, frequently asked questions about polylactic acid (PLA), and why it’s essential to the future of temporary products.

What is Polylactic Acid (PLA)?

PLA is different than most thermoplastic polymers in that it is derived from renewable resources like corn starch or sugar cane.

The lifecycle below shows the extraction process and final product, as well as how the final product can be recycled too!

PLA lifecycle

How is PLA different from other plastics?

Most plastics are derived from the distillation and polymerization of nonrenewable petroleum reserves. Plastics that are derived from biomass (e.g., PLA) are known as “bioplastics.¹”

What are the primary features of PLA?

  • Non-petroleum-based plastic
  • Derived from vegetable products
  • Naturally degrades when exposed to the environment
  • Can be produced from pre-existing manufacturing equipment
  • Lower melting temperature (cannot hold a hot liquid)
  • High permeability (not for long-term storage)
  • Non-toxic (and therefore safe for food)

    PLA biodegradation

What is PLA used for (other than awesome tents)?

  • 3D printing

  • Biodegradable medical devices (e.g. screws meant to degrade in 6-12 mos)

  • Plastic films (e.g. mulch films)

  • Water bottles

  • Utensils/cutlery/dish ware

  • Short-term packaging (e.g. tea, cups, fruits and vegetables)

  • Industrial and civilian cloth (e.g. tents!)

PLA fabric

Where can I learn more about PLA?

Great question! Here are a few of our favorite select resources about PLA!

Have any questions?
Contact us.

357 Fannypack Dr. Blacksburg, VA 24061


On the map