E-PLA (Expanded Polyactic Acid) < back

EPS is very attractive to helmet makers—the crushable foam is lightweight, yet offers excellent impact protection. One downside, however, is that EPS is petroleum based and will not decompose after it’s been retired. Its environmental footprint, so to speak, is heavy.

Expanded polyactic acid (E-PLA) is a relatively new addition (2016) to the world of helmet liners. This single-impact, crushable foam functions very similarly to EPS and can perform to the same safety standards, and it can be much friendlier to the environment. E-PLA is plant based (it’s derived from corn, at this time) and biodegradable.

E-PLA has been used for some time in packing materials. In order to be utilized in helmets, it has been reformulated to provide better impact attenuation and to degrade very slowly—helmet owners expect several years of safe use from their helmet. E-PLA is currently being used in a small number of cycling helmets and could potentially replace EPS in more types of helmet liners in the near future.

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