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Is PLA biodegradable unconditionally?

Is PLA biodegradable unconditionally?2020.12.17

PLA is the most common biodegradable plastic raw material. PLA is polymerized by lactic acid produced by starch fermentation. Compared with other degradable materials, the production technology of PLA is mature and the cost is low. In some industries and places, PLA is also promoted as a substitute for disposable plastics.


But is PLA biodegradable unconditionally? The answer is no.


The biodegradability of PLA is not unconditional, nor is it completely free from environmental hazards. PLA biodegradation needs to meet two basic conditions: 50% - 60% humidity and 50 - 70 ℃ temperature. Under these conditions, it is possible for microorganisms to decompose PLA gradually for months or even longer. From another point of view, PLA can not be degraded without the required condition of temperature and humidity.


In a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2015, the environmental hazards of degradable plastics were mentioned, including PLA.


The report gives a clear description of the prerequisites for the biodegradability of plastics, i.e. the need for industrial composting facilities and specific temperatures.


Simply put, biodegradable plastic bags need to be completely degraded to carbon dioxide and water at a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius. However, it is difficult for the natural environment to reach the necessary temperature for degradation. If PLA plastic bags are randomly discarded, they can not be truly degraded in nature.

OKCHEM PLA, PBAT and PBS Distribution Project

OKCHEM is the strategic partner of Anhui BBCA (the largest PLA producer in China) and Xinjiang Blue Ridge Tunhe (the largest PBAT producer in China) to look for buyers and partners globally. If you want to join us in this project, please contact us at You may also make the application online at:

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