Publication Details

Title : Life Cycle Inventory for Polylactic Acid Production
Publication Date : September 30, 2019
Authors : P. Benavides, O. Zare`-Mehrjerdi, U. Lee
Abstract : Polylactic acid (PLA) is a linear aliphatic thermoplastic polyester with three stereochemical forms: poly-L-lactide, poly-D-lactide, and poly-D,L-lactide [Nampoothiri et al. 2010]. In 2017, PLA production accounted for around 10% of global bioplastic production (232,749 tons) and is expected to have a significant increase in production capability to 50% percent by 2022 compared [European Bioplastics 2017; Detzel et al. 2013]. It is estimated that bioplastics can replace as much as 90% of the application used by conventional plastics, which show the great potential of bio-based plastics [Shen et al. 2010]. PLA has a proven track record as a substitute for more commonly used plastics such as polypropylene (PP), high density polyethylene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, and more [Guo and Crittenden 2011; Groot and Boren 2010]. PLA is a potential replacement for conventional plastics applications such as cups, bottles, to-go containers, packaging, films, and textiles [Henton et al. 2005; Binder and Woods 2009; Vaes et al. 2006; Gironi and Piemonte 2011; Vink et al. 2003].
In this document, we present a life-cycle inventory (LCI) for PLA production that can be used to evaluate the energy and material inputs with the greatest effect on the life-cycle energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of PLA production. For this purpose, we used the Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) model, which Argonne National Laboratory developed [GREET 2018]. GREET was used to collect data for the upstream processes of PLA production including energy use and emission factors.

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