Learn if PLA is Recyclable

A Growing Problem

3D printing includes a waste issue. Available manufacturing and the capacity to quickly experiment with new layouts drives innovation, but it also ramps up mistakes and piles up worthless items. When lost, these prints contribute to landfills that are already at a critical level. A better option may be to dispose of PLA with your plastic recycle.

It is difficult to get a handle on exactly the the statistics of how much waste 3D printing produces. This is especially true given as the process advances into the homes of more and more hobbyists each year. However there are quotes out there.

Filamentive sent a poll in ancient 2019, also based on its more than 200 answers, the firm projects that 8 million tons of 3D printing material will go directly into sidewalks across the world this year. To help visualize the situation, the University of California at Berkeley noted in 2017 their own set of 100 3D printers produced at least 212 kilograms of trashed filament that year.

People are serious amounts that add to the already alarming quantity of plastics that get chucked out every day.

Fortunately, the very popular 3D printing material, PLA, is at least partially biodegradable. It is made from cornstarch, so it breaks down simpler than filaments that are produced from synthetic materials such as ABS.

Looking a little deeper, PLA is a thermoplastic polyester polymer, and you may recognize parts of the label. “Thermoplastic” means a type of plastic that becomes soft and may be molded once it is heated to a certain temperature. And”polyester” describes more than a type of clothes; in this circumstance, it is a polymer that includes naturally-occurring compounds like the cutin of plant cuticles.

Basically, PLA utilizes the waxy parts of plants to form its own shape, which helps it break down into biodegradable parts rather than staying whole in a landfill indefinitely.

However, the question is, can you recycle PLA?

The short answer is, you may definitely recycle PLA filament, although maybe not in precisely the exact same way that you can recycle your milk jugs, food containers, and other kinds of routine plastic. PLA has a lower melting point than other plastics, therefore it can not go into precisely the exact same package with the rest.

Both main strategies to recycle PLA would be to hand it to a recycling plant that knows how to handle it or to grind this up and then extrude it into new filament. Below, we’ll go into detail on how to recycle or resuse PLA filament. In the end, plastic issues require creative solutions.