You might be inclined to use PLA straws when choosing environmentally friendly materials. After all, they’re made from renewable resources and biodegrade quickly, right? YES, PLA straw (bio-based polylactic acid straw) is a new type of degradable plastic. It is made of raw starch from renewable plant resources such as corn. It has good biodegradability and can be completely degraded by natural microorganisms after use.
Studies have shown that it can fully degrade under suitable conditions in about 180 days, eventually becoming carbon dioxide and water. At the same time, it will take hundreds of years for a plastic straw to break down.
It’s not just straws. Seventy-nine percent of the plastic discarded after use ends up in landfills or the natural environment, where plastic pollution forms. This plastic waste into the environment, over a long period, under the action of the natural environment, will be broken into pieces smaller than 5 millimeters, known as microplastics. Animals ingest microplastics, enter the Marine environment, pollute soil and water, and ultimately affect the ecology and human health.
From the perspective of user experience, PLA straw has excellent performance. It has high toughness and strong impact resistance and will not become soft when soaked in drinks so people will evaluate it. But it has a disadvantage, afraid of hot, high-temperature resistance is limited.
Therefore, PLA straw is one of the best choices for plastic straws for green and environmental protection.
What is PLA?
Polylactic acid (PLA) is a bioplastic from renewable resources like cornstarch. PLA can be recycled repeatedly, which means it has a lower environmental impact than other plastics. PLA is biodegradable, so that bacteria can break it down into energy and carbon dioxide.
How is PLA made?
How is PLA made?
Polylactic acid (PLA) is a biodegradable polymer formed from the polymerization of lactic acid monomers. It is an environmentally friendly material that can replace traditional plastic products.
The production process of the PLA
The PLA production process mainly includes raw material preparation, polymerization reaction, and post-treatment.
- Preparation of raw materials. The raw material of PLA is lactic acid, which can be obtained by fermentation or chemical synthesis. Fermentation is the conversion of carbohydrates such as starch or glucose into lactic acid, which is then produced by steps such as distillation and crystallization. Chemical synthesis is the reaction of ethanol, acetic acid, and other chemicals to produce lactic acid, and then through distillation, crystallization, and other steps to produce high-purity lactic acid.
- Polymerization reaction (core step). The polymerization reaction is the polymerization of lactic acid monomer into polymer polylactic acid through a condensation reaction. The polymerization reaction can be either cyclic polymerization or linear polymerization. Cyclic polymerization is the polymerization of lactic acid monomer into cyclic molecules under the action of a catalyst, and then PLA is obtained by heating and vacuum drying. Linear polymerization is the polymerization of lactic acid monomer into linear molecules under the action of a catalyst, and then PLA is obtained through heating and compression steps.
- Post-treatment (the final step). Post-treatment is the processing and modification of lactic acid to meet the needs of unused applications. Post-treatment can be injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, and other processing methods; it can also add filler, plasticizer, and other modifiers to improve PLA’s physical and processing properties.
The PLA production technology is a complicated process, which requires strict control of parameters and conditions in each link to ensure the quality and performance of PLA. With the continuous improvement of environmental protection awareness, PLA as a biodegradable material will have a wider application prospect.
What are the environmental consequences of using PLA straws?
PLA is made from plants, so it will not have the same environmental impact as a plastic straw.
PLA straws are made from corn, so they are biodegradable and compostable. This means that when you throw your PLA straw away, it will completely break down in a few months.
The main concern with PLA is that it can be hard to recycle. While most curbside recycling programs accept PLA, there is still some confusion about what to do with it because PLA is still new and different. Some people may not be able to recycle PLA at all, depending on where they live and what kind of curbside recycling they can access.
Another concern with PLA is that it can leach into food in hot drinks like coffee or tea. There seem to be conflicting reports about this effect, so while there may be some risk involved with using PLA straws in hot drinks, there isn’t enough data yet to know how much of a risk there is.
How long does it take for PLA straws to decompose?
In general, PLA straws will decompose within six months to 1 year. This means that the straws will break down into smaller pieces and eventually be consumed by microorganisms in the soil.
For the decomposition process to begin, the straw must be exposed to air and moisture. The best way to do this is to put your PLA straws in a compost pile or bury them directly into the soil where they can stay moist.
Place your PLA straws in an environment with more microbes (such as composting) to speed up the decomposition process.
Thank you for reading! This article aims to answer how long it decomposes for PLA straws. We hope our information helps determine when removing these harmful items from your environment might be a good idea. As with any decision you make, please do your research and consult an expert if needed.