Replacing Silicone with Recyclable Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)

Replacing Silicone with Recyclable Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)

Going greener by replacing silicone based injection moulding with TPE.


Injection Moulding Recycling Revolution

Silicone is widely used and its versatility weaves itself into various personal tactile products we interact with daily. Your keyboard caps, toothbrush grip and the nose pads on your sunglasses are all likely to be injected moulded silicone. For years silicone has been the go-to material for injection moulding high-volume of complex shapes which needed tactile qualities. Its durability and flexibility make it highly versatile, but its environmental impact often went unnoticed.


The environmental impact of silicone

Unlike common plastics with established recycling systems, dedicated infrastructure for silicone recycling is less widespread. Which means silicone products are more likely to up in landfill, taking centuries to decompose and leaching harmful chemicals into the environment.


Replacing traditional silicone applications with recyclable alternatives

Injection moulding allows for the use of recyclable plastics, like Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE). TPE is a strong alternative to silicone for personal tactile products due to its environmental benefits, cost-effectiveness, versatile tactility and good performance properties. The specific tactile properties of TPE will depend on the chosen formulation and production methods. However, by understanding the possibilities of TPE's tactile properties, you can create personal products that not only look good but also feel amazing, setting your brand apart in the market.


Tex Plastics helping brands make the sustainable shift

As sustainability becomes an increasingly important concern for consumers and businesses alike, embracing a shift from silicone to TPE can help to position you at the forefront of innovation and environmental responsibility. TPE moulded materials can be readily recycled, creating a closed-loop system that minimises waste and conserves resources. This translates to a smaller environmental footprint, reducing your carbon emissions and aligning with increasingly eco-conscious consumers.


While both TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) and silicone offer rubber-like properties and are used in various products, they have some key differences to consider:


Chemical Structure

TPE: A blend of plastic and rubber, offering a mix of both properties. Its specific composition varies depending on the desired characteristics.

Silicone: Made from silicon and oxygen, known for its purity and high resistance to chemicals.


Temperature Resistance

TPE: Generally TPE has a lower temperature range, typically -35°C to 80°C. High temperatures can cause it to melt or deform.

Silicone: Boasts an impressive temperature range, often handling -60°C to 250°C or even higher depending on the type.



TPE: Recyclability varies depending on the specific formulation, but some types are readily recyclable, making them a more sustainable option.

Silicone: Not typically recyclable, leading to environmental concerns due to landfill accumulation.



TPE: Generally TPE is less expensive than silicone, making it an attractive choice for cost-sensitive applications.

Silicone: Typically silicone is more expensive due to its unique properties and complex manufacturing process.


Tactile Feel

TPE: Offers a wide range of textures and feels, from rubbery to soft and grippy.

Silicone: Generally feels smooth and silky, but can also be textured depending on the application.



TPE: Can be less durable than silicone, especially in high-wear applications or extreme environments.

Silicone: Offers excellent durability and resistance to wear and tear, making it ideal for long-lasting products.


Other Differences

Odour: TPE may absorb and retain odours, while silicone is generally odourless.

Water Resistance: Both offer good water resistance, but silicone tends to be more water-repellent.

Customisation: Both can be coloured and customised, but silicone may offer more vibrant and consistent colours.


Exploring the opportunities is free

Ultimately, the best choice between TPE and silicone depends on the specific needs of your product or application. Tex Plastics Design for Manufacture team can help you make objective considerations on your products technical requirements, like temperature, environmental impact, cost, desired feel and durability so you can make an informed decision.

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