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How do you make plastic from plants?

Dave de Bruin/ Daliz, Den Haag

One way of making plastic is by using sweetcorn. First, starch is extracted from the sweetcorn, which is then used as a raw material for making plastic. Because the plastic is made from biological raw materials, it is referred to as ‘bioplastic’. In the past, all plastic was made from petroleum. By making bioplastic, we can save petroleum.

Polylactic acid
This is also known by its abbreviation, PLA. It is made from plants such as sweetcorn and sugar cane, which can be grown over and over again (an example of renewable raw materials). The beauty of PLA is that it is also biodegradable. If you bury PLA plastic packaging in the garden, it will rot away completely after a while.

PLA is used as packaging material in supermarkets, for tomatoes, for example. Since it’s not as soft as old-fashioned clingfilm, it creaks and crackles. Give it a try!