Learn if PLA is Recyclable

A Growing Problem

3D printing has a waste issue. Available manufacturing and the ability to easily experiment with new designs pushes innovation, but it also ramps up errors and piles up worthless objects. When discarded, these prints lead to landfills which are already at a critical level. A better option may be to dispose of PLA with your plastic recycle.

It’s hard to get a handle on exactly the precise statistics of how much waste 3D printing generates. This is particularly true given since the process advances into the homes of a growing number of amateurs every year. But there are estimates out there.

Filamentive sent out a survey in early 2019, also based on its over 200 answers, the firm projects that 8 thousand tons of 3D printing substance will go straight into landfills across the world this past year. To help picture the circumstance, the University of California at Berkeley noted in 2017 their own pair of 100 3D printers produced at 212 kilograms of trashed filament that year.

Those are serious amounts that contribute to the already alarming quantity of plastics which get tossed out every day.

Luckily, the very popular 3D printing substance, PLA, is at least partially biodegradable. It’s made from cornstarch, so it breaks down easier than filaments which are produced from synthetic materials like ABS.

Looking a bit deeper, PLA is a thermoplastic polyester polymer, and you might recognize parts of the label. “Thermoplastic” means a type of plastic which becomes soft and may be molded once it’s heated to a certain temperature. And”polyester” refers to over the usual type of clothes; in this circumstance, it’s a polymer that includes naturally-occurring chemicals like the cutin of plant cuticles.

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

However, the question is, how can you recycle PLA?

The short answer is, you may undoubtedly recycle PLA filament, although maybe not in the same manner you can recycle your milk jugs, food containers, and other types of everyday plastic. PLA has a lower melting point than other plastics, therefore it can not enter the same package with the remainder.

The two main ways to recycle PLA are to hand it over to a recycling plant which knows how to manage it to grind it up and then extrude it into new filament. Below, we’ll go into detail on how to specifically recycle or resuse PLA filament. After all, plastic problems require creative solutions.