The Association of Plastic Recyclers
  • PLA



PLA attachments

Attachments made of the base polymer are recovered and recycled with the base polymer without causing contamination or yield loss, thereby generating the highest value.


Paper attachments

The PLA reclamation process may use a wash to remove glue and other contaminants to the levels required to render the RPLA usable. Paper, when subjected to these conditions, becomes pulp which is very difficult to filter from the liquid, thereby adding significant load to the filtering and water treatment systems. Individual paper fibers making up pulp are very small and difficult to remove so some travel with the final polymer. Paper fibers remaining in the RPLA carbonize when the material is reused causing quality degradation.

Welded attachments

A certain amount of a welded attachment cannot be separated from the main polymer in the recycling process. These attachments, even when ground and made of floatable materials, cause contamination and yield loss issues in both cases: when the PLA they are attached to causes the ground section containing both polymers to sink, or when the ground section floats.

RFID’s (radio frequency identification devices) on packages, labels or closures

Unless they are compatible with PLA recycling and are demonstrated not to create any disposal issues based on their material content, the use of RFID’s is discouraged as it limits yield, introduces potential contamination, and increases separation costs.

Also see "Requires Test Results" Section


PET and PVC attachments

The use of PET or PVC attachments of any kind on PLA packaging is undesirable and should be scrupulously avoided. This includes thermoforms of PET and PVC that may be visually confused with PLA thermoforms. Very small amounts of PET or PVC can severely contaminate and render large amounts of PLA useless for most recycling applications. In addition, PET and PVC are very difficult to separate from PLA in conventional water-based density separation systems due to similar densities (densities greater than 1.0) that cause both to sink in these systems.


Metal, metalized and metal containing attachments

Sortation testing for metal components will result in either a Detrimental or a Renders Non-Recyclable ruling. Metal components cannot be Preferred at this time.

Examples include metal foils and metalized substrates that sink in water. In the recycling process these items are either identified and removed along with their PLA component in the early stages, thereby causing yield loss, or they pass into the recycling process causing a contamination issue. Since they are heavier than water they sink with the PLA in the float-sink tank.

If a metalized attachment causes the PLA bottle to fail sortation testing, the bottle is Rendered Non-Recyclable as it is removed from the stream and discarded. If a metalized attachment passes through sortation, it is considered Detrimental as it contaminates PLA.


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