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An overview of the silicone recycling process

Andrew Cheng – ECO USA

With global annual production of silicone expected to grow to 2.9 million tons by 2025, it is increasingly important to have an environmentally-friendly end-of-life option for silicone products. The current solution for discarding silicone scrap is to either landfill or incinerate it. Both of these are detrimental choices for the environment.

Unlike plastic, paper, glass and metals, where recycling is widely available, commercial recycling for silicone is nonexistent. A reason for this is because silicone, once cured, cross-linked or formed into rubber, can no longer be melted or reshaped. The traditional ways of recycling do not apply. A new, innovative process must therefore be developed and tested before silicone can be recycled.

There have been many suggestions for how to recycle silicone, and while the concepts are theoretically plausible, a large-scale operation to realize these concepts has recently been established in Parkersburg, WV. After two years of research and testing, ECO USA’s pilot facility has successfully proven the sustainability of recycling silicone rubber and liquid using a chemical cracking process.

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