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Molecular Database

Polylactic acid (PLA)

Micro- and nano-plastics
CAS Number: 26100-51-6


Polylactic acid (PLA) is a thermoplastic monomer (polyester kind) made from fermented plant starch from corn, cassava, maize, sugarcane or sugar beet pulp. [1].

Properties and uses

PLA is soluble in dioxane, hot benzene, and tetrahydrofuran. PLA is used in medical implants such as anchors, screws, plates, pins, rods or as a meshand. As a decomposable packaging material, PLA is used in film or for cups and bags. It is used for compost bags, food packaging, disposable tableware, and loose fill packaging. Another common use is as a 3D printing feedstock. As a fibre or nonwoven fabric, PLA is used for upholstery, disposable clothing, feminine hygiene products and nappies [1].


As the majority of microplastics, PLA can also act as a carrier of other molecules that cling to it. Some of those clinging molecules are bacterial, viral or toxic.

[1] https://www.twi-global.com/technical-knowledge/faqs/what-is-pla#HowisitMade

Identification peaks (cm-1)

398, 873, 1042, 1092, 1293, 1388, 1452, 1773