Feel free to contact us!

Let's PLAy project - Bioproduction of PLA

Project Description


One of the most promising (and today a most concrete and current) use of PLA is to construct compostable packaging, for example in the food industry. Some companies already propose PLA-based packages, for various uses including meat and fruit trays, opaque dairy containers, bakery containers, disposable cold drink cup, lamination film, floral wrap, tapes, milk, oil and water bottles, and more. Polylactic acid can also be used to manufacture fibers, which can be used to make underwears, diapers, wipes, pillows, mattress, or even geotextile [1].

Though packaging is the most important application field of PLA at the beginning of the century, some industrial manufacturers foresee their production to tend to be more spread among other sectors by the next decade, such as agriculture and transportation, electric appliance and electronics (e.g. to replace glass fiber), and fibers and fabric. PLA has also been regarded as an active packaging component, meaning as a packaging that can interact with its environment or its product [2].

Because it is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), biodegradable and bioabsorbable, it has been used to manufacture drug-carriers which are made to be later degraded in the human body [3]. Indeed, it is widely used for biomedical applications due to this biocompatibility: tissue engineering uses PLA for function restoration of impaired tissues [4].

Moreover, PLA is known to be a material used for 3D printing. 3D printing is a solid free-form fabrication process and the mechanical properties of PLA are excellent for its shaping procedures [5].

To finish, we found a curious header announcing that Lego is planning to invest $200 million dollars to replace its current ABS plastic for PLA (you can read it here). Can you imagine next generation of iGEMers explaining BioBrick assembly with PLA Lego pieces? Sounds amazing, right?

Lego aims to replace ABS for PLA for its pieces.


  1. Conn, J., Dorgan, A. Inventory of Effective Food Contact Substance (FCS) Notifications. Food and Drug Administration (1995).
  2. Jamshidian, M. et al. Lactic Acid & Polylactic Acid Market by Application. Geography - 2020, MarketsandMarkets (2010).
  3. Nikel, P.I., Martinez-Garcia, E., de Lorenzo, V. Biotechnological domestication of pseudomonads using synthetic biology. Nat Rev Microbiol 12, 368-379 (2014)
  4. Lasprilla, A.J., Martinez, G.A., Lunelli, B.H., Jardini, A.L., Filho, R.M. Poly-lactic acid synthesis for application in biomedical devices - a review. Biotechnol Adv, 30(1):321-328 (2012)
  5. Giordano, R.A., Wu, B.M., Scott, B.W., Cima, L.G., Sachs, E.M., Cima, M.J. Mechanical properties of dense polylactic acid structures fabricated by three dimensional printing. J Biomaterials Science, Polymer Ed. 8(1) 63-75 (1997).