This Company Has Built a Better Toothbrush

Toothbrushes cannot be recycled but now there is an alternative.

Woman putting toothpaste on a toothbrush.

(Tamas Panczel - Eross /

While many have tried to build a better mousetrap, Colgate has been working on building a better toothbrush. The goal has been to develop a replacement to nonelectric plastic toothbrushes that are not recyclable and it has just been met.

Colgate just released the first-of-its-kind toothbrush that contains 80 percent less plastic according to a company press release. The Colgate® Keep has a reusable lightweight aluminum handle and a snap-on replaceable plastic head that is available in two different styles: Deep Clean with floss tipped bristles and Whitening with spiral polishing bristles.

Regular manual toothbrushes contribute to plastic waste going into landfills and oceans because they are made of mixed materials and not usually recyclable. Since plastic does not biodegrade, it will stay in our environment for hundreds of years and eventually end up in our oceans. Since there were 450 million plastic toothbrushes purchased in the US in 2020, a solution was badly needed.

Colgate has tried to rectify that by partnering with TerraCycle for over ten years. The company has received more than 5 million toothbrushes and other oral care products to recycle but that doesn’t make much of a dent in the millions of toothbrushes that are thrown away every year. Colgate® Keep is a much better answer.

The company is trying to cut back on all waste and the keep’s outer cardboard packaging is made from 60 percent recycled content that is fully recyclable. One of Colgate’s 2025 sustainability and social impact strategies is to cut the amount of toothbrush waste by half. Since the company sells 30 percent of the world’s toothbrushes, according to Fast Company, that’s a lot of plastic waste.

The first toothbrushes sold in the US were made of wood and boar bristles but when plastic became available, companies started mass producing toothbrushes. While in recent years, eco-solutions like bamboo toothbrushes are being manufactured, this is still a niche market. Colgate® Keep seems like a much more viable alternative.

The price may be its hardest sell. The starter kit comes with a handle and two brush heads and sells for $9.99 and refill packs of two heads are $4.99. The price of a 6-pack of Colgate toothbrushes on Amazon is $4.19.

The company said in the press release that if everyone in the US switched from conventional plastic toothbrushes to Colgate® Keep, it would save the equivalent of over 400 million toothbrushes from going into landfills and waterways. That’s enough of a sell to make the switch to the better toothbrush.

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