Colgate's First-of-its Kind Recyclable Toothpaste Tube is Almost Ready

It took 5 years to develop!

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(Vastram /

Colgate toothpaste is a household name worldwide. Now the company that gives you a healthy smile is working to provide you with a sustainable future too.

The company has finalized the design of the first-of-its-kind recyclable toothpaste tube that is setting a new standard for the industry according to a company. The new tube has been recognized by the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR); an essential first step before bringing it to the public.

Colgate-Palmolive had to invent a new toothpaste tube because the current ones are made from a mix of plastics in a laminate and thin sheets of aluminum that is pressed into a single film that protects the contents. The tubes cannot be recycled because the materials cannot be separated, but that will change soon.

The recyclable tube was in development for more than five years. At first, the development engineers thought they could use a commonly recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE), that is used in plastic bottles but turns out that it wasn't squeezable enough for toothpaste, according to a company press release.

Colgate's “eureka moment” came when the engineers realized that they could use more than one grade of HDPE in their designs, so they tested many different combinations that ranged from six to 20 layers. They finally found one that protected the product, could be squeezed easily by consumers, and still meet the demands of high-speed production.

The new recyclable toothpaste tube will be rolled out in the US under the Tom's of Maine brand in 2020, and global rollouts of the Colgate brand will follow. The company plans to fully convert all of its products to recyclable tubes be 2025.

“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,” Justin Skala, executive vice president, chief growth & strategy officer for Colgate-Palmolive said in the press release.

Getting APR approval was only the first step in building support for the new product because APR only provides guidelines for recyclability in North America. The company still has other hurdles to clear that include materials recovery facilities and the municipalities that operate recycling programs, but they are already partnering with several groups to make this happen.

“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,” said Skala.

To reach the company's goal of converting to 100 percent recyclable packaging by 2025, Ann Tracy, vice president global sustainability, EOHS and supply chain strategy said, “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.”

Colgate-Palmolive is not the only large company working on making their products more planet-friendly. Poland Springs is committed that all of its bottles under 1 gallon will be made of recycled plastic by 2022 and other major brands like Starbucks are working hard to eliminate single-use plastic.

Companies will need to green their products to stay competitive as more consumers are committed to purchasing more sustainable products, and that will translate to a much healthier planet.

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