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Dental Office Recycling Program: Take the Lead in These 4 Ways

Aug 01, 2018

Author: Susanna Scherer RDH

Recycling can benefit your community and the planet in numerous ways, from reducing trash and pollution to educating children about the value of caring for the environment. Dental hygienists can do their part by starting an office recycling program. Although it may seem like a big job to tackle, there are many simple steps you can take to help eliminate waste and go green in the dental office. Here are four suggestions to help you get started.

1. Everyday Waste

Many single-use items used in the dental office, like masks and gloves, cannot be recycled. But take notice of products you use that can be recycled, such as plastic cups or other items that have a recycling symbol and number on them. These items can be disposed of in a separate bin so they can be disposed of properly for recycling.

2. Dental Instruments

Do you have a drawer filled with old hand instruments that can no longer be used because they are too thin to sharpen or the tips are broken? Good news: there are companies that recycle dental instruments. Programs like Environdent work with responsible metal scrap recyclers in the U.S. and Canada that find other uses for your old instruments, such as in car bumpers and street lights. All you have to do is package and mail your old instruments. Environdent even allows offices to earn a free, brand new hand instrument for every 12 they recycle through the program.

3. Dental Equipment

Offices upgrade dental equipment for many reasons, from increasing efficiency to dazzling patients with the latest technology. If you have equipment in the office that looks outdated but still operates, consider donating it. Organizations like the Open Wide Foundation repurpose gently-used equipment, such as chairs, instruments and sterilization units, to establish much-needed oral health clinics around the world.

4. Oral Care Packaging

TerraCycle and Colgate have partnered to create a free recycling program for oral care product packaging that doubles as a fundraising opportunity for participants. The Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program accepts toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes, toothpaste cartons, toothbrush outer packaging and floss containers. Once collected, the tubes and brushes are separated by composition, shredded and melted into hard plastic that can be remolded to make new recycled products.

As a part of your office recycling program, you can create a collection bin to encourage patients to participate with you. Terracycle offers a step-by-step guide and resources to help you get started.


  • Follow a few simple steps to reduce office waste.
  • Determine which items used in the dental office can be recycled and how.
  • Create a collection bin to encourage patients to participate in your recycling program.

Why It's Valuable

Dental hygienists can do their part to help eliminate waste by recognizing items used within the dental office that can be recycled. Starting a program that practices recycling will encourage patients to partner with you in your effort to go green at your dental office.

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