Most toothpaste tubes are made from sheets of plastic laminate, which is usually a combination of different plastics sandwiched around a thin layer of aluminium that protects the toothpaste’s flavour and fluoride. The mix of materials is pressed together into a single film, which makes it impossible to recycle through conventional methods!
Excitingly, Colgate has developed a recyclable material and process that would overcome this so that its new toothpaste tube not only allows the customer to comfortably squeeze out all the toothpaste, protects the integrity of the product and meets the demands of high-speed production, but also to be recyclable!
The design of a first-of-its kind recyclable toothpaste tube sets a new standard in the industry and is the first to be recognized by Association of Plastic Recyclers. The tube has been under development for more than five years and Colgate plans to fully convert to recyclable tubes by 2025, at which time toothpaste products will all be produced using 100% recyclable packaging. They also aim to promote sustainability by encouraging others to use this green technology so as to have as big an impact as possible to create not only healthier smiles, but a healthier planet.
Currently, the use of plastic tubes are popular in a range of products from cosmetics, personal care, pharmaceuticals and food. Toothpaste alone accounts for an estimated 20 billion tubes globally per year. To make a recyclable tube, Colgate chose high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the plastic used for bottle making. To overcome the rigidity of this plastic, which is not well suited to soft, squeezable toothpaste tubes, Colgate engineers used more than one grade of HDPE in their design. Extensive testing demonstrated the recyclable tube material could be repurposed after recycling, including successfully making new plastic bottles from the tubes.
Colgate is partnering with several groups, such as 'More Recycling,' a data and technology firm that works with companies to navigate the recycling infrastructure and support sustainable choices; and, 'The Recycling Partnership,' which provides grants, technical assistance and communication support to states, cities and communities to help residents recycle more.
Colgate is committed to using less plastic and more recycled material in their packaging.