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Is Silicone Recyclable? 3 Simple Steps to Recycle at Home

Silicone kitchen ware in cabinet

Silicone is a material that is largely used in the medical, culinary, cosmetics, and automotive industries. According to recent research¹, the global silicone market was worth $16.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach approximately $32 billion by 2030. Silicone presents many advantages, which is why many industries use it in their productions.

With the increasing production of silicone products, the million-dollar question is this: is silicone recyclable? Fortunately, yes. Silicone can be recycled. Stick around to learn more about how to recycle silicone, how to dispose of it correctly, and more.

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What Is Silicone?

Woman holding a silicone storage pouch
Photo Credit By: karolina-grabowska, Pexels

Silicone is an inorganic synthetic polymer that consists of silicon, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and other elements. Silicone rubber is the most popular form of this material and is used in various industries. Among them is the automotive industry, which uses silicone to make automobile parts. Silicone has high-heat-resistance properties and contains chemicals that make it highly resistant to extreme weather effects.

The culinary industry has also been using silicone for manufacturing cookware for a long time. Again silicone’s high-heat resistance properties make it oven and microwave-safe. What’s more, this material can also withstand extremely low temperatures, making cookware suitable for freezing food.

Can Silicone Be Recycled?

As mentioned earlier, silicone can be recycled. However, the commercial way of recycling this material has yet to be developed. Typically, silicone is quite challenging to break down because once it is cross-linked, cured, or formed into rubber, it is difficult to melt or reshape it.

This explains why many waste collection services don’t accept silicone items for recycling.

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The 3 Steps to Recycle Silicone at Home

While the process of recycling silicone is challenging, you can recycle your silicone cookware once it reaches the end of its lifespan. Here’s how to recycle silicone at home.

1. Breakdown the Worn-Out Silicone Cookware

Begin by breaking down your silicone cookware into tiny pieces. You can use a pair of scissors or a blade. Alternatively, you can use a kitchen grinder when dealing with bigger items.

2. Prepare a Mold for Your Recycled Silicone

Once you’ve broken down your old silicone utensil into tiny pieces, look for an object with your preferred shape that you will use to mold your new silicone utensil.

Silicone oven gloves
Photo Credit By: charlotte-may, Pexels

3. Mix the Old Silicone With the New Silicone Mix

Now proceed to mix the grounded silicon utensil with a new silicone mix in the molding object. Usually, silicone mix is available in liquid or powder form. Alternatively, you can use a silicone molding kit if you’re new to recycling silicone.

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Is Silicone Biodegradable?

The term biodegradable basically refers to an item that can be broken down by microorganisms, such as fungi, bacteria, or microbes, and reabsorbed by the environment without negatively impacting it. A biodegradable item also should be completely broken down within a specific period (usually a year or less) and be disposed of in an environment that supports its degradation.

Judging from the above explanation, silicone isn’t biodegradable. This is because it takes a very long time for it to be broken down by microorganisms. What’s more, it negatively impacts the environment by releasing harmful substances once it’s broken down.

As we mentioned earlier, many waste collection services don’t have the expertise or equipment to recycle silicone. So, if you dispose of your silicone items, they’ll end up in the landfill.

How to Properly Dispose of Silicone

As you now know, most waste collection services don’t recycle silicone. So, how can you properly dispose of silicone items? An excellent way is to recycle them.

But since recycling is quite a challenging process, you can also repurpose your silicone items. There are many things you can make out of worn-out silicone items. Some of the things you make include baking mats and lunch trays.

Another alternative is to look for a silicone recycling program. Nowadays, there are silicone product companies that allow people to return old, worn-out silicone items, which they take to a silicone recycling center.

Other companies allow individuals to return their worn-out silicone items, which they take to be used to make other things like playground mulch.

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Final Thoughts

While it is possible to recycle silicone, many recycling programs and waste collection services are yet to begin recycling this material. It’s advisable to use your silicone items, especially cookware, for as long as you can before disposing of them.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that silicone degrades in quality as it is recycled. So, when recycling your silicone items, it’s best not to use too much of the old silicone pieces as it will lower the quality of your new silicone item.

Featured Image Credit: castorly-stock, Pexels


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