The firm says it will share the technology behind its new products with competitors, to help ensure that all toothpaste manufacturers can meet their recycling requirements


It's estimated that the world uses around 20 billion tubes of toothpaste a year (Credit: Pixabay)

Hygiene product manufacturer Colgate has launched an “industry-first” range of recyclable toothpaste tubes.

The move is part of the company’s target to make 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2025.

Due to their traditional mix of materials, such as plastic or aluminum, toothpaste tubes are typically difficult to recycle.

Global estimates suggest consumers use about 20 billion tubes of toothpaste a year.

Developing the new packaging — part of its “Smile for Good” range — Colgate used high-density polyethylene, commonly found in milk containers.

Colgate-Palmolive chief executive and president 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.”

Recyclable toothpaste tubes an ‘encouraging’ move, says charity

The newly designed tubes have gained recognition from The Association of Plastic Recyclers and the North American Association of Plastic Recyclers and RecyClass, which set recyclability standards across North America and Europe, respectively.

Colgate says it will share the technology behind the new products — on sale in the UK for £5 ($6.50) — with its competitors, to ensure that all toothpaste manufacturers can meet their recycling requirements.


colgate toothpaste tubes recyclable
Colgate has developed its new tubes with high-density polyethylene, commonly found in milk containers (Credit: Twitter/@CP_News)

Waste and Resources Action Programme‘s (WRAP) strategic engagement manager Helen Bird believes the move is an important step.

She said: “It is encouraging to see a major brand making efforts to design plastic packaging that is more easily recyclable.

“It is important that changes like this are made in collaboration with other partners in the supply chain, to ensure that the packaging is recyclable within our current infrastructure.

“It should also be labelled clearly so that citizens know how to dispose of it.”

As well as its recyclability, Colgate has included a list of ingredients on its “Smile for Good” products, alongside an explanation of their functions.

The company says this is because consumers were confused about the role each one played in the product.


Colgate’s oral care recycling programme

It’s not the first time Colgate has entered the toothpaste recycling world, with the brand supporting the launch of the UK’s Oral Care Recycling Programme in 2018.

Working with recycling business TerraCycle Europe, the scheme allows consumers to drop-off used toothpaste and toothbrushes, which are then recycled.

colgate toothpaste tubes recyclable
To develop its Oral Care Recycling Programme, Colgate partnered with recycling business TerraCycle (Credit: TerraCycle)

Speaking at the time, TerraCycle Europe’s general manager Laure Cucuron said: “Oral care products are used by all of us each and every day, so it’s one of the most frequently asked about types of products that consumers tell us they want to be able to recycle.

“So, we’re delighted to partner with Colgate to launch the Colgate Oral Care Recycling Programme which now enables everyone in the UK to recycle their oral care waste of any brand.”

Located in 955 collection points across the UK, the scheme has recycled more than 500,000 pieces of oral care waste.