By Kadie Yale | Images courtesy of The Mitchell Group
While the Sta-Kleen line has existed as part of The Mitchell Group performance products, the company upped the ante in May 2018 when it released its latest: a silicone-coated
fabric. Recognized primarily for its use in kitchen goods,
The Mitchell Group approached the idea of creating a
silicone product because of its sustainability story. Unlike
products that are treated with a coating that releases volatile
organic compounds (VOCs), silicone is high-performance
on its own, enabling the new Sta-Kleen Silicone to be
100-percent silicone on a 100-percent polyester double-knit substrate.
While silicone may be a known term, the science behind
it and what makes this pliable product sustainable is less
clear. i+s spoke with Jim Blesius, director of marketing for
The Mitchell Group, to gain a better understanding of the
material and what readers need to know.
WHAT IS SILICONE?
Silicone is a human-made material created by combining
the same proportion of elements of different molecular
weights, better known as a synthetic polymer. The prefix
comes from the base element of the polymer: sand (silica).
Sand is mixed with other natural elements to create a pliable, rubber-like material that is able to withstand extreme
temperatures and heavy use.
On a chemical level, the sand is an organosilicon monomer—or an organic molecule which makes up sand. When
mixed with oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen, the molecules of
each bond together to create a silicone polymer.
HOW CAN STA-KLEEN SILICONE BE CONSIDERED
“The green story is really what this product is all about,”
Blesius said. Unlike high-performance fabrics which are
made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethanes (PUs),
the lifecycle of silicone has many healthy and sustainable
properties. The most noticeable is that silicone doesn’t
release VOCs so that indoor air quality doesn’t suffer.
Another major aspect of the Sta-Kleen Silicone sustainability story is how water is used or retained during the manufacturing process.
“Although there’s a range of how clean [PVCs and PUs]
can be made, because they take solvents and chemicals,
the manufacturing process isn’t ideal,” Blesius explained.
“They often use a lot of water that, in many cases, isn’t
reclaimed, and it gets dirty in the process. [Sta-Kleen
Silicone] uses almost no water. The process itself is
as environmentally green as you’re going to get with a
Lastly, there’s the durability aspect of silicone.
The material is known to be resilient—not just from
everyday use, but in relation to extreme temperatures and UV exposure, as well as being easily
pliable with a soft hand. Because of these properties,
many baking and cooling products are made from
silicone as it will withstand being moved from the
oven directly to the refrigerator.
Blesius explained that while polyurethanes can
sometimes perform up to half-a-million double rubs,
silicone’s 200,000 factory-tested double rubs—four
times the industry standard—is nothing to snub your
nose at. Less wear and tear means less replacement
and material which ends up in landfills.
FOR WHICH MARKETS IS IT IDEAL?
Coated and high-performance fabrics aren’t necessary
for every project, but particular spaces, such as those in
hospitals, hospitality, and contract interiors, benefit with
the increased durability. Because silicone doesn’t off-gas,
Sta-Kleen Silicone is compliant with the Healthier Hospitals
Initiative standards, making it ideal for healthcare.
Additionally, Blesius pointed out that because of
silicone’s resistance to water and oxidization and that it
contains high colorfastness in light and water, Sta-Kleen
Silicone is already being introduced within the automobile
and marine industries.
WHAT CERTIFICATIONS DOES STA-KLEEN
Sta-Kleen Silicone is compliant with the following environmental, green building, and material reporting standards:
• RoHS 2.0
• LEED v4
• LEED MR Credit 5
• CA Section 01350 VOC emissions
• Health Product Declaration (HPD)
• Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI)
Harnessing the durable
nature of sand, The Mitchell
Group releases a silicone
into their Sta-Kleen
collection. i+s answers
what you need to know
about this new use of a