Silica gel desiccants are widely used in the packaging of consumer products to prevent moisture damage. They’ve become so ubiquitous that we don’t give a second thought to how they are made or what happens after we dispose of them. While they are seemingly harmless, in reality they have a tremendous negative environmental impact, are not always safe, and may not be providing any protection to your products.
Silica gel is a synthetic material manufactured through an intensive multi-step process that requires significant chemical, water and energy inputs, and results in high levels of pollution and waste-water. In fact, it is such a dirty industry that the government of China, the primary global source for silica gel, has for many years been ordering large scale closures of silica gel factories.
Silica gel is commonly packaged in plastic-lined sachets which are not biodegradable and are difficult to recycle. When we toss them into the trash they end up in landfill or oceans where they will remain indefinitely and can cause harm to wildlife and ecosystems.
Consider the inputs required to make 100 million 5-gram sachets of silica gel:
× 47 metric tonnes of plastic packaging. Equivalent to 2,350,000 one-litre plastic bottles
× 950 metric tonnes of chemicals
× 10 million litres of fresh water
While silica (silicon dioxide) itself is not poisonous, the desiccants often contain harmful chemical additives including methyl violet and the potentially carcinogenic cobalt chloride, which are added as moisture indicators. If consumed these chemicals can cause serious health hazards.
Many commonly used brands of silica gel have negligible to no capacity to absorb moisture. Quality matters and typically only pharmaceutical grade silica gel can achieve the 30-40% absorption rate that most suppliers will claim. There is tremendous variation in the cost of silica gels and if you allow your suppliers to source their own desiccant they will always choose the lowest price, and hence lowest quality option which likely offers no protection to your products.
Micro-Pak Dri Clay® Kraft is a sustainable, safe and effective alternative to silica gel:
• Sustainable – 100% natural and plastic-free desiccant made of high grade bentonite clay that is packaged in biodegradable FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified Kraft paper.
• Safe – chemical-free and non-toxic.
• Effective – outperforms all common brands of silica gel
Making 100 million 5-gram sachets of Dri Clay® requires:
- Zero plastic
- Zero chemicals
- Zero water used in production
Please contact Micro-Pak for more information.