Most resins are not eco-friendly because most resins are crude oil byproducts. Crude oil is a non-renewable resource, and the resin-making process uses harsh chemicals while depleting the planet’s finite supply of oil.
Resin, like other products made from crude oil, is non-biodegradable and non-compostable.
In addition, most resins are highly toxic in their liquid form, and extreme care must be taken when handling or disposing of any resin.
Read on for more details about what resin is, the four main varieties of resin, how it is produced, and its environmental impacts.
- What Is Resin, Anyway?
- Is All Resin Toxic?
- How Do You Dispose of Resin?
- Are There Environmentally Friendly Resins?
- Is Resin Biodegradable?
What Is Resin, Anyway?
Though resin is currently trending, it’s definitely not new.
In fact, resin has been used for almost a century, mostly to make surfaces stronger and easier to clean.
Resin, like plastic, is a byproduct of petroleum or crude oil.
Like plastic, it has many different types, each with different uses. The four most commonly used types are:
- Fiberglass resin
- Polyurethane resin
- Silicone resin, and
- Epoxy resin, also known as craft resin.
If you’ve ridden on a boat, used an indoor bathroom, or eaten in a restaurant, you’ve definitely run your hand across fiberglass resin.
This type of resin is often used for heavy-duty, high-traffic surfaces.
Polyurethane resin is primarily used as a sealant for wood, leather, and other substances.
Applying a coating of polyurethane resin made surfaces stronger and easier to clean.
If you have an omelet turner, spatula, or oven mitt, there’s a good chance that you have come across silicone resin in your kitchen.
Silicone resin has a high tolerance for heat and thus has many practical applications.
Unlike other resins, the silicone resin is only used as a solid and is considered food safe.
Epoxy resin, also known as craft resin, is the type most talked about these days.
If you use Tik Tok, or other social media sites, you’ve likely watched a time-lapse video of an artist creating something jewelry, knick-knacks, or even furniture from epoxy resin.
It looks beautiful and fun to do!
The Epoxy resin project became extra popular during the pandemic, as people longed for a creative outlet, a sense of accomplishment, and to add beauty to their surroundings.
It’s easy to see how resin crafts do all of these things.
Lately, however, the makers of these viral resin pour videos have come under fire for potentially trashing the planet and adding to a long list of toxins polluting the earth.
Furthermore, as pandemic restrictions have eased, second hand stores and landfills have begun to see an increasing number of discarded resin crafts littering the surroundings.
These are legitimate concerns. Epoxy resins made from crude oil are not biodegradable and will simply take up space in landfills.
They cannot be easily recycled, and they are highly toxic in liquid form. So, what are your options when it comes to resin?
Is All Resin Toxic?
Resin is toxic in its liquid form.
That is why it is so important to protect yourself and those around you whenever working with liquid resin:
- Only use a ventilated workspace
- Wear gloves and goggles to protect skin and eyes
- Wear a face mask, preferably one with a respirator
How Do You Dispose of Resin?
Because most resin is non-biodegradable and is toxic before it is cured, it must be handled and disposed of properly.
The curing process takes about 72 hours, so it’s best to hang on to your resin until then.
Recycling resin is expensive and cannot just be done at your local recycling plant.
For this reason, you cannot dispose of resin in your regular recycling bin.
It is actually better to throw it away, following all safety precautions.
Disposing of Resin
If your resin is cured and hardened, you can throw it away with your household trash.
If you have liquid resin, pour it into a container made from HDPE plastic.
Allow it to harden there. Once hardened, check your local waste management guidelines to see if you can simply throw it in the trash, or if you must take it to a waste treatment plant
Never, never get rid of liquid resin by pouring it down any household drain! Liquid resin is toxic and should not come into contact with your water supply.
Are There Environmentally Friendly Resins?
Plant-based resins release fewer harmful chemicals and are made from renewable sources.
In that sense, they are more friendly and less costly to the environment; however, they may prove more expensive for consumers.
Is Resin Biodegradable?
As mentioned above, most commercial resins are derived from petroleum, and therefore are not biodegradable.
However, it is possible to make resin from plant based sources.
While these types of resins are not biodegradable and still need to be handled and disposed of with care, they are less environmentally costly to produce.
Resins From Plant-Based Sources
Resins made from plant based sources are more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based resins.
Plants are renewable resources, unlike crude oil.
Plant-based emissions are less harmful than those generated from crude oil, and using them helps to conserve our finite supplies of oil and natural gas.
It is still important to use caution when using and disposing of these resins.
Resins Made From Corn
Besides oil and natural gas, corn is the most commonly used source material for resin.
Resin made from corn has the benefit of being compostable, unlike resin made by more traditional means.
One caution with this method is that corn requires a lot of fertilizer.
The runoff from this fertilizer can enter and pollute waterways.
Resin Made from Sugarcane
Another, eco-friendlier alternative to petroleum based resin is resin made from sugar cane.
Sugarcane does not need as much land to grow as corn and releases fewer emissions during the resin creating process.
Whatever type of resin you end up working with, make sure you are aware of its source, how it was manufactured, and how to dispose of it properly.
Read all labels carefully.
Don’t neglect to prepare yourself and your workspace with the proper safety equipment, either. Happy pouring!