c3sus/PLA research page

From Hackers Against Climate Change

PLA straws research

Since BOC will be trying out PLA straws for congress we would like to know more about the topic, it's ecological merits and determine how best to deal with the waste.

At the time of writing this our understanding is that a brand and supplier has not be chosen yet for the PLA straws and therefor for the purpose of this exercise we have picked this product as a general example.

What is PLA?

There's a good description here.

How compostable is PLA

PLA straws fall under the Biodegradable category according to DIN13432.

In summary at least 90% decomposable within 3 months in an industrial composting plant.

Which bin should PLA be disposed in?

PLA is biodegradable. This doesn't mean that it's widely accepted by recycling facilities as biodegradable waste; it may be intercepted as extraneous material, or even considered as a reason to discard an otherwise good batch. The correct answer depends on the area where it is being disposed (often at city level).

It is chemically different to other kind of plastics, so quite often is not accepted in the plastic/packaging bin.

Short answer: most probably in the black bin, but this should be verified.

According to this article, it may be possible that if PLA goes in the yellow bin with packaging it could be separated by the waste management facility.

The question is: is the waste management facility contracted by the city of Leipzig able to separate PLA from regular packaging? - We are hoping to find out! Aimee sent an email to the city 27/10/2019, will keep you posted. In the meantime if you can answer the question please include info and source below.

What other uses can PLA have?

PLA for 3D printers

Precious Plastics is a project for recycling plastics into raw materials for 3D printers.

Since this is already tried and tested we could try to ask assemblies with 3D printers whether they would like to take the PLA straws to use for their machines.

Requirements:

  • a special bin / receptacle for straws near the bars
  • clear signs encouraging the users to not mix with other trash - opportunity to promote assemblies that are participating

Advantages:

  • Materials are recycled on site
  • People are encouraged to recycle

Disadvantage: