Colgate announces new recyclable toothpaste tube

The packaging engineers at Colgate have cracked the code when it comes to manufacturing a recyclable plastic toothpaste tube, and it will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste that resulted from the original design we all know.

Every year, approximately 20 billion unrecyclable toothpaste tubes are discarded into landfills and a lot of them enter the ocean and add to the microplastics that are killing wildlife and affecting our own health.

The reason why toothpaste tubes are unrecyclable is that engineers had to sandwich a thin layer of aluminum with several sheets of plastic to form the easily squeezed tube.

It may make squeezing toothpaste out of the tube more efficient and easier, but it’s terrible for the environment because it is impossible to recycle.

But that’s going to change because Colgate engineers in New Jersey discovered the magic formula to manufacture a tube of toothpaste using layers of different kinds of high-density polyethylene, which is recyclable.

The engineers successfully found a combination that gives the toothpaste tube the same feel while keeping it efficient and easy to produce.

Colgate even received the seal of approval from the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), the first time a personal care product has received such recognition.

“The Association of Plastic Recyclers appreciated the opportunity to partner with Colgate on this important project,” APR President Steve Alexander said. “Tubes are one of the most widely used forms of plastic packaging that still cannot be recycled. There is a lot of work ahead, but we believe Colgate is off to a great start.”

And the company plans to use the design for all of its products by 2025, which will mean millions less unrecyclable plastics ending up in environments in which they don’t belong.

“Colgate people are excited about this challenge and meeting our goal of 100% recyclable packaging,” Vice President Global Sustainability Amy Tracy told Business Wire. “We’re committed to using less plastic – and more recycled material – in our packaging. We’re helping to strengthen recycling by supporting the Closed Loop Fund and other efforts. And we’re exploring new ingredients and models, including TerraCycle’s Loop™ initiative for reusable, refillable packaging.”

That’s not all. Rather than keep this design to themselves, Colgate plans to offer the technology to other companies so they can also make their product packaging recyclable.

“Building a future to smile about means finding new packaging solutions that are better for the planet, but until now there hasn’t been a way to make toothpaste tubes part of the recycling stream,” Executive Vice President and Chief Growth & Strategy Officer for Colgate-Palmolive Justin Skala said. “Once we’ve proven the new tube with consumers, we intend to offer the technology to the makers of plastic tubes for all kinds of products. By encouraging others to use this technology, we can have an even bigger impact and increase the long-term market viability of this solution.”

Companies sharing revolutionary technology with each other is not something that happens every day, but this is a dire moment in human history when our world is threatened by climate change. Plastics are burying our world and we have to do something about it. Colgate is doing just that, which means they should be rewarded by consumers for doing a good deed for humanity and the Earth.

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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