Our mission is clear: at CHT, we want to do our part to make the world more sustainable across all our business units. But those who are familiar with synthesizing silicon know that’s easier said than done. The manufacturing process consumes a great deal of energy and there’s no way to use renewable resources as a raw material to build an anorganic silicon framework.
The only exception in this case is perhaps bioethanol. Using bioethanol, however, leads directly to the next discussion: is it ultimately more useful to use the land required to produce it to grow food? As if that were not enough, even if you leave the silicone backbone out of things and only consider functionalization, you still need a double bond at the end of the molecule for this reaction. In nature, and thus in renewable raw materials, the double bonds are always in the middle of the molecules. So what can we do instead?
In the silicone sector at CHT, our approach is to look deeply into the issue of recycling. How can we get as much as possible out of these elaborately produced polymers—and only dispose of as little of them as absolutely necessary? We're running several research projects simultaneously to test which of our previous waste materials can be reused. Is it possible to obtain new raw materials based on recycling processes from alternative raw material suppliers? And how many of these raw materials can we use in our recipes to guarantee the level of quality our customers rely on? Ultimately, if we can really make a difference for the future, we’re happy to rise to the challenge and dive deeply into the potential polymer recycling poses.
We take pride in being able to report some initial successes. We’ve been able to find a way to process some of our by-products and fully recycle them. As a result, one of our key products already has a recycling rate of about 30%—and we’re sure we’ve yet to exhaust all of our options to continue optimizing the process! We’re truly proud of this accomplishment, and that motivates us to continue researching the issue moving forward.