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Polymers and materials

Polylactic acid (PLA)

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a compostable thermoplastic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch. Large scale production is done mostly in the United States. There is also an international research effort underway to produce PLA from second generation (non-food) sugars.

Our developments

Senbis Polymer Innovations produces multifilament yarn from PLA, with applications as horticultural twine used in greenhouses, e.g. to bind tomato plants to their supports. A major advantage of using PLA over the traditional polypropylene twine is that after harvesting, when the plant material is composted, there is no need to remove the PLA as it is compostable.

NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences has a research program aimed at producing compound PLA materials, e.g. by combining this polymer with wood and natural fibres to create thermoplastic composites.

Companies involved

Innofil-3D produces PLA 3D printing wire. Senbis Polymer Innovations offers R&D services for polymers such as PLA and produces yarns made from 100% biobased PLA. NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences educates students and professionals on polymers and performs applied research on PLA. Both organiziations have joined forces with other local parties to develop sustainable polymer such as PLA via the initiative SPIC-Emmen (sustainable polymer innovation cluster). More info at


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