With eco-friendly lifestyles gaining popularity among the masses, Silicon has recently become one of the hot topics of discussion. Many people who are opting for a greener lifestyle want to know whether Silicon is eco-friendly.
Let’s delve into the subject.
So, what is silicon?
Bonded silicon is a naturally occurring element that is found in rocks, clay, soil, and sand. Second to oxygen, this is the most abundant element in the earth’s crust. This is the fourteenth element placed in the periodic table.
Silicon compound is even found in animals and plants. The most commonly used silicon is nothing but a human made polymer created out of oxygen, silicon, and sometimes elements such as carbon and hydrogen as well.
How is silicon different from plastic?
Silicon has infinite uses and properties. It can be used as a gel, liquid, or even like rubber. Silicon has very low reactivity with chemicals, is water-resistant, and doesn’t support microbial growth. This makes silicon an ideal alternative to plastic for hospitals, cooking, and industries.
Benefits of using silicon
Silicon offers the following benefits:
1. Silicon is stronger than plastic
As silicon is made out of naturally occurring silica mined out of the earth’s crust, it is able to tolerate an extremely high amount of radiation, scorching temperatures, and salinity. Unlike plastic, materials made of silicon do not break so easily.
2. Does not emit any toxic vapors
A unique property of silicon is that it won’t give off any toxic gases once ignited. If heated under high-temperature, silicon will disintegrate into water vapor, carbon dioxide, and pure silica.
3. Ideal choice when it comes to making cooking material
In recent years, silicon utensils and cookware have been in the limelight due to its high functionality and safety. Cookware made out of silicon can be placed almost anywhere from the refrigerator, microwave ovens, and even the gas stove. Silicone bakeware is naturally non-stick and avoids the use of the artificial non-stick coating. This also makes the cleaning up process easier.
4. Highly durable
Silicon products are known to have a greater lifespan than their plastic counterparts. Silicon products resist cracking and can withstand large amounts of heat and pressure which plastic products cannot. By reducing your plastic use and switching to silicon-based products, you can save lots of replacement and maintenance costs.
Can Silicone be recycled ?
Unlike plastic, the main advantage of silicon is that it can be recycled as many times as possible. However manmade Silicone cannot disintegrate on its own, once thrown away. It has to be subjected to certain specialized processes to get it fully recycled.
Certain companies convert silicone trash into oil, which is a great lubricant for industrial machinery.
The end product after decomposition is harmless
The key difference between plastic and silicon is that, once the plastic is thrown away, it will disintegrate into tiny micro fragments. This is quite poisonous and completely hampers with the sea and land ecosystems.
The flip side is that it poses a great threat to sea and land animals, putting their lives in extreme danger. Many land and sea animals consume plastic, thinking that it is food, which in turn will completely cause their circulatory and digestive systems to become haywired.
Silicon on the other hand is recyclable and therefore a more environmentally sustainable product than plastic.
When compared to synthetic materials like plastic, silicon is a perfect choice, as is it made out of naturally occurring elements. However due care must be taken while trying to dispose of materials made out of silicone.
As mentioned, some industrial treatment is necessary to break down the items made out of silicon into it’s component products.