Colgate launches recyclable plastic toothpaste tube

Colgate Palmolive has launched a new vegan-friendly toothpaste range packaged in a first-of-its-kind recyclable plastic tube, with the technology set to be shared with competitor brands.

Colgate has confirmed that the toothpaste has been certified to EcoCert and Forest Stewardship Council standards

Colgate has confirmed that the toothpaste has been certified to EcoCert and Forest Stewardship Council standards

Colgate’s Smile for Good Toothpaste is housed in a plastic tube made from different grades of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which is commonly used to make milk jugs and plastic bottles that are widely recycled.

By combining different grades and thicknesses of HDPE laminate, Colgate has made a tube that meets recycling standards and is still squeezable while protecting the product.

It has also been certified by the Vegan Society for its ingredients and components which are derived from natural sources.

Colgate Palmolive’s chief executive Noel Wallace said: “Colgate wants to make tubes a part of the circular economy by keeping this plastic productive and eliminating waste. If we can standardise recyclable tubes among all companies, we all win.

“We want all toothpaste tubes -- and eventually all kinds of tubes -- to meet the same third-party recycling standards that we’ve achieved.  We can align on these common standards for tubes and still compete with what’s inside them.”

Colgate has confirmed that the toothpaste has been certified to EcoCert and Forest Stewardship Council standards. It has also been confirmed by The Association of Plastic Recyclers and RecyClass that the packaging meets recyclability standards in North America and Europe respectively.

Around 20 billion toothpaste tubes are produced globally and, in a bid to boost the recyclability of the packaging, Colgate has agreed to share its technology and design with competitors.

The company has also partnered with recycling firm TerraCycle to develop a method of recycling toothbrushes, which are often not collected by local authorities due to a lack of infrastructure that can process them. Toothbrushes typically consist of a rigid plastic stick and flexible plastic bristles and grips, making them hard to recycle using traditional machinery.  

TerraCycle's method involves washing, separating and shredding the items before melting them and forming them into plastic pellets. The pellets are then remoulded for inclusion in new plastic products such as outdoor furniture and fence posts. Colgate Palmolive has launched a website where organisations including schools, hospitals, local authorities, businesses and charities can sign up to host a public collection point.

Colgate has also launched a bamboo charcoal toothbrush and is aiming to make 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2025 as part of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment convened by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.


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Matt Mace



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