The massive use of synthetic plastics, in particular in the food packaging area, has a great environmental impact, and alternative more ecologic materials are being required. Poly(lactic) acid (PLA) and starch have been extensively studied as potential replacements for non-degradable petrochemical polymers on the basis of their availability, adequate food contact properties and competitive cost. Nevertheless, both polymers exhibit some drawbacks for packaging uses and need to be adapted to the food packaging requirements. Starch, in particular, is very water sensitive and its film properties are heavily dependent on the moisture content, exhibiting relatively low mechanical resistance. PLA films are very brittle and offer low resistance to oxygen permeation. Their combination as blend or multilayer films could provide properties that are more adequate for packaging purposes on the basis of their complementary characteristics. The main characteristics of PLA and starch in terms of not only the barrier and mechanical properties of their films but also of their combinations, by using blending or multilayer strategies, have been analyzed, identifying components or processes that favor the polymer compatibility and the good performance of the combined materials. The properties of some blends/combinations have been discussed in comparison with those of pure polymer films.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited