There is a larger push for more sustainable and eco-friendly products in today's market, especially in the DIY and home improvement space. So it's no surprise that silicone materials are becoming the alternative to plastics, but is it really eco-friendly?
In this article, we're going to dive into the science behind silicone, and what makes it the better solution.
SILICON (SI), SILICA, & SILICATES
What exactly is silicone? The Science-y Part.
Silicone is a material that is similar to rubber and some forms of plastics but has some unique properties. It's made from silicon (which comes from sand), oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen.
Si is the second most common element on Earth, second only to oxygen. However, silicon, the element, is so unstable that it doesn’t appear on its own in nature; it almost always appears attached to oxygen. The two together comprise more than 95% of the material on earth, and substances built of those two elements together as their base are collectively called silicates. In the lab form, Si is an effective electrical semiconductor and is therefore a crucial component to just about all technology, from calculators to computer chips, which is where Silicon Valley got its renowned name.
Woof. Okay. Done with the science. Let's move on.
Silicone is increasingly viewed as a more eco-friendly alternative to plastic for household products for several reasons:
Durability and Longevity: Silicone is highly durable and resistant to extreme temperatures, meaning it can last much longer than plastic products. This durability reduces the need for frequent replacements, thereby lessening the amount of waste generated.
Non-Toxic and Safe: Unlike some plastics, silicone does not contain harmful chemicals like BPA, lead, or phthalates making it a better alternative for food storage, medical devices, and baby-related products.
Recyclable: Plastic paint tray liners aren't recyclable with dried or wet paint remaining in them and millions of plastic liners end up in landfills every year. While silicone isn't as easily recyclable as some materials, it can be recycled at specialized facilities. Its ability to be recycled still offers a more sustainable option compared to many plastics that end up in landfills. This is why we are working with TerraCycle, a company committed to recycling the unrecyclable. So if your Repaint liner or lid becomes damaged or unusable, we will gladly take it back to be properly recycled. Those recycled materials are then used for playground surfaces for inclusive playgrounds for children with disabilities.
Lower Environmental Impact in Production: The production of silicone has a lower environmental impact compared to the production of new plastic. This is because silicone is made from silica, which is derived from sand, a more abundant and less environmentally damaging resource than the fossil fuels used to produce most plastics. Sustainable manufacturing is something that is important for us at Repaint Studios. In fact, for some of our future painting supplies and products, we will have the capability to make new paint trays from leftover materials during production to reduce our waste as much as possible.
Less Petroleum Dependency: Silicone is not based on petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource. The reduced reliance on petroleum conserves an important natural resource and reduces the overall carbon footprint.
Resistance to Degradation: Silicone does not degrade easily under environmental conditions like sunlight, oxygen, and water. This stability means that silicone products don’t break down into microplastics, which are a major environmental concern with conventional plastics. Silicones actually thrive on challenges, including exposure to extreme heat and cold, harsh chemicals, sterilization, rain, snow, salt spray, ultraviolet radiation, ozone, and acid rain, just to name a few.
Consumer advocate Debra Lynn Dadd conducted her own research into silicone rubbers and says silicone “is not toxic to aquatic or soil organisms, it is not hazardous waste, and while it is not biodegradable, it can be recycled after a lifetime of use.”
While silicone offers several eco-friendly advantages, it's important to note that it's not always the perfect solution, however, it is a step in the right direction. As of now, there are very few sustainable alternatives in home improvement, but the Repaint Tray helps provide a new solution to a wasteful industry while adding a better tool to our toolkits. At the end of the day, silicone's durability and longevity make it a preferable choice in household products and for a more sustainable future.