Global awareness of material sustainability has increased the demand for bio-based polymers like poly(lactic acid) (PLA), which are seen as a desirable alternative to fossil-based polymers because they have less environmental impact. PLA is an aliphatic polyester, primarily produced by industrial polycondensation of lactic acid and/or ring-opening polymerization of lactide. Melt processing is the main technique used for mass production of PLA products for the medical, textile, plasticulture, and packaging industries. To fulfill additional desirable product properties and extend product use, PLA has been blended with other resins or compounded with different fillers such as fibers, and micro- and nanoparticles. This paper presents a review of the current status of PLA mass production, processing techniques and current applications, and also covers the methods to tailor PLA properties, the main PLA degradation reactions, PLA products' end-of-life scenarios and the environmental footprint of this unique polymer.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.