Abiotic and biotic environmental degradation of the bioplastic polymer poly(lactic acid): A review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • mehlika Karamanlioglu
  • Richard Preziosi
  • Geoffrey Robson


Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) is a compostable bioplastic manufactured by the polymerization of lactic acid monomers derived from the fermentation of starch as a feedstock. Since its first commercialisation in the late 1990's, PLA production has grown annually and currently it estimated that worldwide production will reach at least 800,000 tons by 2020 with Japan and the USA the two major producers. PLA is used as a replacement to conventional petrochemical based plastics, principally as food packaging containers and films and more recently, in electronics and in the manufacture of synthetic fibres. Consequently, there has been a marked increase in PLA contamination in the environment as well as increasing amounts being diverted to commercial composting facilities. This review focuses on the development, production, stability and degradation of PLA in a range of differing environments and explores our current knowledge of the environmental and biological factors involved in PLA degradation.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-130
Number of pages9
JournalPolymer Degradation and Stability
Early online date18 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017