Toothpaste tubes currently on the market are impossible to recycle because the mix of plastics and aluminum contained in them. Soon, you may be able to toss your used-up toothpaste tube in the blue bin.
Colgate said it has finalized a design for a “first-of-its kind recyclable toothpaste tube.” The change is part of the company’s efforts to have all of its products use recyclable packaging by 2025.
It took the company five years to develop the new tube.
Colgate said it thought it could use a commonly recycled type of plastic called a “high-density polyethylene” (HDPE) for the new tube, but it discovered that it’s not squeezable enough for toothpaste.
It’s so-called “eureka moment” came when it compiled several grades of HDPE material in a toothpaste tube. That correct combination “allows people to comfortably squeeze out all the toothpaste, protects the integrity of the product, and meets the demands of high-speed production.”
The new tube will roll out in the United States beginning in 2020 under its natural-products brand, Tom’s of Maine. The tubes will eventually debut across all of its brands within in the next five-and-a-half years.
Colgate (CL) wants to expand the availability of the new plastic, too.
“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,” said Justin Skala, executive VP and chief growth and strategy officer for Colgate-Palmolive, said in a release. “By encouraging others to use this technology, we can have an even bigger impact and increase the long-term market viability of this solution.”
The design earned the approval of the Association of Plastic Recyclers, an organization that sets recyclable guidelines for North America. But the tube has to earn recognition from similar organizations in other countries before it can be sold globally.
“Tubes are one of the most widely used forms of plastic packaging that still cannot be recycled,” said APR president Steve Alexander. “There is a lot of work ahead, but we believe Colgate is off to a great start.”
Colgate-Palmolive is just one of several consumer companies investing in recyclable products. The result helps control their costs and satisfies people’s need to go green. Recycling initiatives are also a way for companies to keep their branded products from becoming litter, which could hurt their reputations.
Coca-Cola (KO) has committed to making its bottles and cans out of at least 50% recycled material in the next decade. Starbucks (SBUX) is testing out a new paper cup that uses less plastic and is in the process of eliminating plastic straws. Poland Spring water that is still and under one gallon will be sold in recycled plastic bottles by 2022, it announced earlier this month.