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The Life Cycle Assessment for Polylactic Acid (PLA) to Make It a Low-Carbon Material

The massive plastic production worldwide leads to a global concern for the pollution made by the plastic wastes and the environmental issues associated with them. One of the best solutions is replacing the fossil-based plastics with bioplastics. Bioplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) are biodegradable materials with less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. PLA is a biopolymer produced from natural resources with good mechanical and chemical properties, therefore, it is used widely in packaging, agriculture, and biomedical industries. PLA products mostly end up in landfills or composting. In this review paper, the existing life cycle assessments (LCA) for PLA were comprehensively reviewed and classified. According to the LCAs, the energy and materials used in the whole life cycle of PLA were reported. Finally, the GHG emissions of PLA in each stage of its life cycle, including feedstock acquisition and conversion, manufacturing of PLA products, the PLA applications, and the end of life (EoL) options, were described. The most energy-intensive stage in the life cycle of PLA is its conversion. By optimizing the conversion process of PLA, it is possible to make it a low-carbon material with less dependence on energy sources.

Publication date: 02/06/2021

Author: Erfan Rezvani Rezvani Ghomi

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym13111854

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.