Silicone FAQ

Silicone recycling project FAQs

What is silicone?

Silicone is a polymer mostly made from silica (sand) and is a great alternative to plastic for day to day products that need to be hard wearing and durable. It is more sustainable material than plastic as the ingredient silicone is made out of silica which is derived from sand.

Food-grade silicone is a safer choice for food and our health compared to plastic, it is non-toxic and can withstand heating and freezing without leaching or off-gassing, hazardous chemicals (unlike plastics which can contaminate food in these environments). Silicone is also odour - and stain-resistant, hypoallergenic and with a great easy to clean smooth surface and is soft like rubber and does not break. Silicone products are long lasting and can be used time and time again, making them a better and more sustainable product option compared with plastic.

Is silicone a type of plastic?

No. Silicone is not plastic (or a rubber). It is a polymer mostly made from silica (sand) which has been processed to make a silicone material, that is then molded into a variety of products. Silicone can’t be recycled with plastic and can contaminate plastic recycling that is collected at kerbside.

What sort of products are made of silicone?

At nil we choose to use silicone because of its functional properties, these include thermal stability, durability, non-toxic and elasticity - and because it is a more sustainable alternative to plastic. Food grade silicone is used for anything that is for food handling or eating and drinking, as it is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, odour- and stain-resistant and is stable with temperature fluctuations.

Example products made from food grade silicone are: baby feeding products (spoons, sippy cup lids or spouts, bottle teats, some pouches) drink bottle components (soft silicone straw tips), baby soothing toys or teethers, food covers made from clear stretch silicone, kitchen utensils such as silicone spatulas, baking sheets, muffin tray/cases. High grade silicone is also used for some personal care products such as menstrual cups.

What can I send back to the Silicone Send Back recycling program?

Anything that is food-grade silicone can be sent in for the Silicone Send Back project. Many products and utensils used in the kitchen and suitable for food prep  are likely silicone, or used for baby feeding.

The following nil products use silicone and can be returned once no longer in use:

  • nil ice pops
  • nil baby spoons (spoon part only - wood handle is compostable)
  • nil Baby silicone butterfly soother
  • nil glass drink bottle (sleeve only)
  • nil lunchbox (seal only)
  • nil silicone food covers
  • nil freezer bags
  • nil large feeding/storage tray (7 compartment, tray only)
  • nil baby bowls
  • nil small feeding/storage tray (tray only)
  • nil baby bib

If you have a question about a specific product to return get in touch with us using the Silicone Send Back form and let us know.

How does the Silicone Send Back work?

Return any food-grade silicone product you are no longer using to us at nil in Wellington by following these steps:

  1. Complete the Silicone Send Back form here to let us know you are sending silicone in and provide your email address (so we can be in touch about your $10 credit)
  2. Pop the items into a recycled courier bag, postal envelope or box
  3. Make sure you label your box/bag/envelope correctly and send it back to us at nil, 471 Adelaide Road, Berhampore, Wellington
  4. When we receive your returned silicone we will sort and collate it all into a large amount and send it to our pilot silicone recycling processor in NZ.

Can I bring silicone in to you instead of posting it?

Yes, if you are in Wellington you can drop it off to our Showroom at 471 Adelaide Road. 

Some of our retail partners will be set up Silicone Send Back drop off points in  stores soon. We will update this page with details once confirmed.

What are you doing with the silicone that is returned?

We collect and collate silicone at nil head office in Wellington and send bundles off to our processing partner in Auckland, who will sort and process this to become silicone material that can then be used by product designers. To start with, we will be working with New Zealand designers to produce some special items. Then, when there is a higher volume of recycled silicone material it will be used to make cool new products here in NZ. 

What is product stewardship?

Product stewardship is about businesses and manufacturers taking responsibility for the products they make, sell and buy so they’re not ending up in landfill. That means designing and making products to last, then putting systems in place to enable them to be reused and recycled when they are worn out. When a producer, importer or retailer accepts responsibility for reducing a product’s environmental impact, we call this product stewardship.

Our Silicone Send Back project is part of The Aotearoa Product Stewardship Campaign facilitated by the Sustainable Business Network.

Read our recent blog about product stewardship at nil here.

Are any other companies involved in Silicone Send Back?

Yes, we are excited to be working in a product stewardship project team with other switched on New Zealand brands such as AgainAgain, Wa Collective, Caliwoods, Reusabowl and more to come. Any silicone products made by these companies that you’re no longer using can be sent to Munch for the Silicone Send Back. 

At nil we already work closely with many major retail stores and are in discussions with several stores to have a Silicone Send Back drop off point in their stores soon. Keep a look out for the Silicone Send Back badge or posters.

Silicone send back