Silicone has been advocated as a green product for a number of reasons. The first is in relation to the backlash over plastics which are potentially toxic. The second is in relation to trying to cut down on consumer waste by using non-stick silicone for muffins, cupcakes and so on.
But what is silicone, and could it be toxic?
Food-grade silicone is non-stick and non-toxic. It does not leach onto food the way chemicals in plastic or foil can. It does not react to food or drink and does not release any harmful gases when heated, the way other non-stick cookware like Teflon can.
What Is Silicone?
Silicone is a manmade polymer made up of the element silicon and oxygen. Silicon is an element found in silica; that is, common sand. It is therefore derived from a natural and renewable source. This makes it relatively clean and green, though it does require fossil fuels to be manufactured.
At present, there are no widely available recycling programs for silicone. However, it is so durable that if it is cared for well, it should last for a long time. It is not biodegradable, but nor is it harmful to water sources, soil or wildlife.
Silicone has been proven durable in the last 30 years through its use as baby bottle nipples. They have withstood repeated use, washing, steaming, being put into dishwashers and more. They are therefore a much safer option than latex, which breaks down quickly and which some babies are allergic to. In addition, silicone has been shown to be a safe and durable alternative to plastics containing BPA, which has been linked to cancer and diabetes.