8. Poly(Lactic Acid)

  1. Stephan Kabasci
  1. Hideto Tsuji

Published Online: 4 OCT 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118676646.ch8

Bio-Based Plastics: Materials and Applications

Bio-Based Plastics: Materials and Applications

How to Cite

Tsuji, H. (2013) Poly(Lactic Acid), in Bio-Based Plastics: Materials and Applications (ed S. Kabasci), John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118676646.ch8

Editor Information

  1. Fraunhofer-Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT, Germany

Author Information

  1. Department of Environmental and Life Sciences, Graduate School of Engineering, Toyohashi University of Technology, Japan

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 OCT 2013
  2. Published Print: 13 NOV 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119994008

Online ISBN: 9781118676646



  • biodegradation;
  • high-performance;
  • plant-based polymer;
  • stereocomplex formation;
  • structure-property relationships


Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) is a bio-based biodegradable polymer that can be produced from renewable resources including starch from corn and potatoes, sugar from beets and sugar cane, and so forth. The carbon in PLA originates from atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is immobilized in glucose by photosynthesis; therefore, the carbon dioxide formed by its disposal, incineration, or biodegradation does not increase the total amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Poly(lactic acid) and its copolymers have attracted significant attention in environmental, biomedical, and pharmaceutical applications and as alternatives to petro-based polymers. Among their applications as alternatives to petro-based polymers, packing applications are the primary one. Most commercially available poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) is used for packaging, automobile interiors, electronics chassis and other consumer products. However, some applications require a higher mechanical performance and resistance to hydrolytic/thermal degradation. In addition to composite or fiber-reinforced plastic formation, stereocomplexation between enantiomeric PLLA and poly(D-lactic acid) is a promising method for producing high-performance PLA-based materials because it has been shown to enhance the mechanical performance and resistance to hydrolytic/thermal degradation of PLA-based materials. The physical properties, hydrolytic degradation, and biodegradation of PLA can be controlled by altering, for instance, their molecular and higher ordered structures. This chapter outlines the basic aspects of synthesis, processing, structures, physical properties, degradation and applications of PLA.