The environmentalist Rachel Carson wrote, “In every curving beach, in every grain of sand, there is a story of the Earth.” Silicone is part of that story.
Let us start at the beginning, shall we? Once upon a time thousands of years ago rocks began breaking down through erosion. One of the components not broken down was quartz (silica). Silica is made up of two main elements: silica and oxygen. Silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is an oxide of silicon with the chemical formula SiO2. Silicon dioxide is a major component of Silicone. Lots of chemistry for you there.
Did you know Silicon is also the second most abundant chemical element found in the earth’s crust? Silicon makes up about 27% of an average rock. True story!
Silicon mixed with carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen makes silicone, a synthetic elastomer. One of the biggest upsides to silicone besides the eco-friendly components is that it is durable. It is more resistant to hot and cold temperatures. It can be reused for years. Silicone resists stains, unlike its counterpart Plastics, it can be sterilized and autoclaved. It will not break down easily giving way to microplastics in our oceans or waterways.
There are also no estrogen mimicking toxins (BPA). Silicone is not biodegradable like plastics which might be viewed as a bad thing. But unlike plastic, silicone can be recycled without the worry of toxins being released when plastics are burned. There are seven different types of plastics, each with their own list of toxins that can be released without proper recycling.
When silicone is not recycled properly, it can likely end up in a landfill. Sitting in a landfill, silicone will do nothing for decades because it can withstand various strenuous environments with very little to no effect on its structure. But on the plus side it will not leach anything into our groundwater to harm us.
A study by Yale indicates that the average person consumes a credit card size amount of plastic a week.
Although commercial recycling of Silicone is not yet readily available there are ways to recycle independently. One of the easiest ways to recycle or repurpose silicone at home is to cut it up into small pieces and join it with just enough new silicone to bond the pieces together. DIY silicone kits are becoming more readily available and it is the perfect way to repurpose something like a broken kitchen spatula. One teacher wrote a blog on recycling with “how to’s”. Check it out here!
One of the major ways that silicone is industrially recycled is by grinding it down into fine pieces then heating with a catalyst and refined to create silicone oil. Silicone oil is also known as PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane). Because it is non-toxic and non-flammable it has a large range of applications. it can be used just as a lubricant, a coolant, defoamer for oils, printing inks, and acts as a water repellent coating. It can be used in cosmetics and in vehicles as well. Silicone oil functions better than mineral and synthetic oils without any harmful effects on metals, wood, and polymers.
If you are looking for a sustainable and environmentally friendly product solution look no further than Silicone. It is perfect for most consumer and medical products. Contact our Sales Representative Extreme Molding at Penny@extrememolding.com for assistance with your products.