Is silicone recyclable?

What is Silicone?

Silicone primarily consists of silicon derived from silica, a sand-like element. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust after oxygen. Silicone material is man-made and comprises silicon, oxygen, and other elements like hydrogen and carbon. Is silicone recyclable?

Many people view and use silicone products as non-plastic alternatives. They consider silicone products as better alternatives to plastic products, especially for zero-waste products in the kitchen and for food storage. Unlike plastic, silicone does not contain a large number of elements that can cause food poisoning.

Silicone products, in itself, create little to no environmental damage; nevertheless, many manufacturers use a silicone manufacturing method that heavily relies on petroleum and natural gas, and the manner in which they obtain the hydrocarbons can have substantial environmental consequences.

Silicone is a versatile material because we can use it in several forms. There can be silicone in rubber form, hard form, and liquid form.

We all can agree that silicone is one of the best materials you can make use of. For starters, silicone is known to be strong and highly resistant to various forms of wear and tear, particularly extreme heat. Then it is known to be hygienic and clean, and therefore safe for various uses, including for food and beverages.

Furthermore, it has also been noted that silicone is quite versatile. Silicone is applicable in products ranging from lubricants to adhesives, electrical and electronic installations, and even medicines. It can also exist in a fairly wide variety of formats. Silicone is also widely used in lubricants, adhesives, electrical and electronic installations, and many others.

However, despite all of these advantages and numerous applications, what happens when you no longer require the silicone? It could be because it has been in use for a long time and no longer serves the purpose for which it was purchased, or it may have developed flaws or become damaged. Nevertheless, you start to think of how to dispose of it.

Several options might appear obvious for you to dispose of the silicone material, and one that frequently comes up is recycling. Recycling, in particular, is fast becoming an option due to the increasing and growing concern and consciousness for issues relating to the environment. However, the fact is that you can recycle not all products. This is largely due to the materials and components they were made up of.

Silicone, on the other hand, is known to be recyclable; in fact, it has been noted that silicone can be recycled numerous times after usage because the recycling process is simple, unlike the sophisticated industrial and chemical procedures required for other materials.

You can conduct domestic recycling of silicone right from your home if you have the right tools. Thus, you do not need to send your old silicone to a manufacturing plant, as you can carry out the process on your own.

The recycling process for silicone normally entails grinding the old silicone into a fine substance, which is then mixed with fresh silicone material and used to manufacture a variety of rubber-based products.

What are the Uses of Silicone?

Silicone rubber is one of the several industrial rubber types. Silicone is extremely durable. It comes in different materials such as adhesives, molding rubbers for reproduction sealants, potting compounds for coatings, electronics, and encapsulants.

Silicone is primarily used in the construction industry, but it is also used as an industrial lubricant, tape insulation, and varnish in keyboards and containers, as well as for temperature resistance. High-thickness silicone is injected into arrestors and insulators by many manufacturers.

In the aerospace industry, manufacturers use silicone to make and maintain many products. For example, they use it to create spacesuit fabrics, gaskets, seals, and some tool materials. There are also medical-grade silicone rubbers used as deformers, adhesives, and also for tubing.

The automotive industry is another industry that uses large amounts of silicone. Silicone ensures the longevity of automobile parts. It can withstand extreme temperatures from -60°C to 230°C. It also consists of chemical fillers that give it strong weathering properties. Silicone is a highly resourceful material in the automotive industry, but it is costlier than every other type of rubber. In 2017, the market size of automotive silicone had a value of USD 5.76 billion.

Lastly, Food-grade silicone is also used to create food containers, nonstick bake ware, and kitchen equipment, as well as silicone molds for the confectionery and cake decorating industries.

Experts within the food industry typically refer to silicone products as better alternatives to plastic ones. The reason for this is that food-grade silicone has little to no known adverse health implications. Silicone can withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures, so it can also freeze and be used to reheat or bake food. Also, people use silicone bake ware for microwaving food as it can withstand high temperatures better.

This offers a whole lot of benefits to you:

  • You can convert your old silicone to good uses without having to throw them out.
  • You get to save considerable amounts that you would rather have spent acquiring the newly formed silicone material.
  • You will be doing some greater good by not contributing what would have otherwise been waste material to the environment.

How Do I Dispose of Silicone Products?

Unlike plastic, silicone doesn’t cause environmental damage, at least not as much as plastics. It also doesn’t cause any significant harm in landfills. However, it is important to note that the sector might contribute to pollution owing to waste.

“It is always advisable to look into eco-friendly strategies to lessen your carbon footprint. To protect wildlife and ocean life, you shouldn’t dispose of silicone items indiscriminately. Instead, make a better choice by sending silicone items to specialized recycling companies. You can also send them off to your local recycling centers to get them properly recycled. Is silicone recyclable?”

Why You Cannot Properly Recycle Silicone Rubber at Home

Silicone is difficult to recycle properly, and many local waste collection services do not accept it.

Recycling silicone requires the silicone item to be smashed or ground into tiny bits. It might also be mixed with certain chemicals and put under high temperatures during recycling, a process that requires a lot of technical inputs. This is why many people will advise that you leave it to the experts.

How to Recycle Silicone at Home

Although we have noted how difficult it can be to recycle silicone, you can follow procedures to recycle them at home. The steps of recycling silicone include breaking it into the smallest pieces and creating a mold. Afterward, you mix the broken-down silicone with new silicone. Below is the recycling process:

Break the Silicone Down

You can shred old silicone into pieces using a kitchen grinder. If you’re recycling a small amount, you can use a blade or craft scissors to attain shredded silicone granules.

Create a Mould for the Recycled Silicone

The shape of your recycled silicone is determined by the shape of the mold you produce. You can make a silicone mold out of any suitable material, or you can utilize an existing material with the desired shape as a mold.

Combine the Fresh Silicone with Recycled Silicone

Once your mold is ready and you have sufficiently grounded your recycled silicone, you can mix the recycled silicone with a fresh silicone mix. Fresh silicone is available in powder form or liquid form.

To make the recycling process more manageable, you may use silicone molding kits. There are numerous types of molding kits available; simply select one that meets your budget and serves the intended purpose.

Using a Recycling Center to Recycle Silicone

You could ease yourself the stress of recycling silicone by giving it to professionals. This is a better option, especially if you have a large amount of silicone. Before throwing silicone items in your garbage bag, contact your local recycling service to ask if they offer the service. If your recycling center or local recycling plant does not accept silicone products, you can find and contact a silicone-specialized recycling company in your area. However, not all recycling centers offer this service because it requires extra effort.

Is Silicone Biodegradable?

The short answer is no; silicone does not biodegrade. When a material is biodegradable, living organisms can break it down until it returns to the earth. Although silicone lacks biodegradability, we can alleviate this impact through proper recycling.

The simple answer to why silicone is not biodegradable is that it is man-made. Manufacturers make silicone from materials that living organisms cannot act upon. A silicone product will remain intact decades longer than an average human lifetime. It’ll remain on land if we do not dispose of and recycle it properly. You can imagine digging up your baby’s silicone spoon from your backyard years later when on their 60th birthday.  

Is Silicone Eco-friendly?

Compared to plastic and its known hazards, silicone is a more eco-friendly alternative.

The negative is that silicone’s production process is not the most environmentally friendly, as it includes the combustion of hydrocarbons from petroleum, which can contribute to air pollution with fumes.

However, silicone as a finished product has no known negative impact on people’s health. It also doesn’t cause any adverse effects on natural states like water bodies and the earth. It outperforms plastic due to properties such as non-reactivity with other chemicals, hypoallergenicity, low toxicity, microbial resistance, and odorlessness.


Silicone is becoming more popular as a substitute for plastic because it is non-toxic, long-lasting, and has a more environmentally friendly lifecycle. While silicone is not biodegradable, it is recyclable. Always remember to reuse products as long as they can last before even tossing them for recycling.

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