Materials > Plastic


Compostable thermoplastic, derived from bio-based materials.

What is PLA?

A transparent, plastic derived from plants (often corn). It's go-to for biodegradable plastics that require rigidity. PLA can be manufactured similar to Polypropylene for injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, and blistering.

Commonly in packaging applications, PLA is combined with PBAT to make a flexible film that is home compostable.

Read the common FAQs on compostable plastic here.

Why choose it?

  • Good solvent resistance
  • Hard, strong
  • Resistant to moistue
  • In production, PLA usually has a lower carbon footprint than fossil fuel derived plastics
  • Low melting point: can be good for production, but bad for outdoor/high heat usage.

Why not choose it?

  • Brittle
  • Poor flexibility and elasticity
  • Not impact resistant
  • Not tear resistant
  • Requires addition of other materials like PBAT for flexibility
  • Usually requires industrial composting, but many composting facilities will not accept compostable plastics, because they can slow down their composting cycles.
  • On its own, PLA cannot be composted in home settings because it requires very high heat (around 140°F) for degradation. Could take centuries to decompose outside of ideal composting environments without the addition of other materials like PBAT.
  • Not degradable in marine environments
  • It cannot be recycled, but because it looks and feels like traditional plastic, it often ends up recycled with plastic. This contaminates and slows down the recycling stream.
  • Requires adequate messaging for proper disposal. If compostable plastics end up in landfills, they will take much longer to degrade (can be decades) without the right amount of heat, moisture, and oxygen to attract the microbes necessary for degradation.