Silicone is usually viewed as an eco-friendly alternative to plastics. However, you need to think thoroughly before you make the decision to switch.
Are there alternatives to silicone that are green to plastics that are single-use?
Silicone is often marketed as a new alternative and greener option to plastics that are only used once.
There is no doubt that using a silicone-based product over and over again is a better option for the environment and animals rather than using a single-use plastic once before tossing it out but this doesn't make it an all-green, miracle solution also.
Let's examine the components that silicone is actually made of, and also its benefits and drawbacks. We'll also look at the silicone products that can be excellent substitutes for plastics used for one-time use.
How do you define silicone?
Silicone is comprised of hydrogen, carbon oxygen and silicon. Silicon is an element in the chemical world that is typically found as silicon dioxide sometimes called silica. It is the primary ingredient in sand.
Silica can also be used to make clay, concrete, bricks and ceramics, in addition to other substances.
In order to make silicone, huge amounts of sand are heated to extreme temperatures, then passed through hydrocarbons, incorporated with methyl chloride. Then, it is distilled and then polymerized. Do you want to know more?
It is classified as an elastomer that is synthetic. In plain English this means that it's manufactured by man and has rubber-like elastic characteristics.
Silicone is known for its capacity to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations as well as its high degree of flexibility and also for its weather resistance.
Is silicone biodegradable?
Let's get the answer to that crucial question: are silicones biodegradable?
In a nutshell, there is there is no.
One of the biggest advantages of using silicone instead of plastics is the durability. Therefore, it shouldn't come as it as a shock to learn that silicone isn't biodegradable.
However, there is positive aspects to take from the long-lasting silicone. In contrast to plastic, silicone doesn't disintegrate into micro-particles.
This alone makes silicone a superior option when you take into account the large amount of animals dying each year as a result of eating micro-particles of plastic.
Since it is a natural product the incineration of silicone will ensure that it doesn't cause any other environmental effects, aside from residual the ashes. In the worst case scenario you won't be dispersing any toxic substances into the natural environment.
What are the benefits of using silicone in place of plastics that are only used once?
As we've already mentioned, one of the primary benefit that silicone offers over single-use plastics is its superior endurance.
If it's a food container or bag, due to its longevity, you'll see many years of use from your silicone-based replacement. It is possible to utilize a silicone kitchen product hundreds of times and you'd save more than a thousand plastic items that are single-use from getting thrown into refill stores or polluting our soil as well as our waterways and oceans.
In addition to its endurance, silicone is an ideal alternative to plastics that are used only once because it is recyclable after its lengthy life (although it can be a challenge (see below).
Furthermore, if there were any reason after a long period of use, the silicone product were to be thrown into the environment The good news is that it won't break into tiny pieces like plastics.
This makes it hard for wildlife to inhale silicone objects, unlike tiny micro-plastic pieces, which can kill thousands of animals each year.
Even the silicone is burned, there aren't other environmental consequences resulting due to the ashes that remain.
Another advantage of using silicone over plastics that are used for one-time use is its ease to clean due to it's smooth surface which ensures it is more hygiene-friendly. Because the silicone surface is more resistant to be a home for bacteria, it is safe to utilize silicone products for longer, and thus reduce the use of single-use plastics.
Are there any disadvantages to the use of silicone?
When replacing a single-use plastic item with a more durable silicone item is definitely an option but it's not advisable to make too much of a fuss about silicone.
Although it's beneficial, you can also reuse ceramic, glass or stainless steel.
Whatever way you view it the fact is that silicone is a material which is produced from chemical and synthetic additives derived from fossil fuels along with sand derivatives.
Unfortunately it is true that silicone has a low recyclability , and requires specific facilities. The majority of the recycled silicone is transformed into industrial lubricant oils while the remainder end in the garbage.
But, as the popularity of silicone as a replacement for plastics that are single-use grows, a growing amount of companies now ask customers to return their product to them to be recycled after its lifespan. If not, silicone will remain in the earth for an extended period of time.
In addition in the event of heating to high temperatures that exceed 300 degF It is believed that silicon may lose its stability and leakage could take place. However, silicon is deemed to be safe and wholesome by FDA and is widely recognized around the world as extremely secure.
Do I have the ability to recycle silicone?
When people learn that silicone isn't biodegradable, they naturally wonder if silicone can be recycled? There is positive and negative information. In the first place you can recycle silicone. Secondly, it's tricky.
Many fans of silicone will say that its recycling capacity makes up its lack of biodegradability. it's not biodegradable. You might think. But, the truth is much more complex than what it initially appears.
As an extremely new material, silicone isn't a popular material for recycling. Because of this, many of them end up in the landfill but with the benefit that it doesn't emit harmful toxins, or break down into easily digestible particles.
If you aren't able to recycle your silicone however, the environmental impact is higher than plastic. In addition when silicone is becoming more popular and demands for more protections for the environment are beginning to take hold and silicone is expected to become more popular at recycling facilities in the near future.
While silicone is not biodegradable it can be recycled.
But, it's not infinity. Recycling facilities are at a minimum and the majority of it is recycled to silicone oil. In comparison to plastic, if it ends up in the landfill it will have a smaller environmental footprint due to its natural components and long-lasting properties.
Which silicone-based products are the most sustainable substitutes?
There are a variety of flexible silicone products to you at home.
While not every single silicone product is automatically environmentally-friendly, here are three typical single-use plastic everyday items that you can replace with a silicone alternative for less waste and much greater durability.
Silicone food bags
The first thing we recommend is food bags made of silicone, like these amazing reuseable silicone bags.
Make use of them instead of zip-lock bags that are only for use in your kitchen, at house, on the road or working. You can use them to store food items in your freezer, to cook sous vide for lunch bags, to store leftovers Silicone food bags can be extremely versatile.
Once you're finished, put them in the dishwasher, and they'll be ready for reuse, just as fresh, thereby saving thousands of plastic bags that are single-use throughout their average life span.