Colgate-Palmolive Ships World’s First Tube Recognized as Recyclable and Freely Shares its Breakthrough Technology
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Last week, Colgate delivered to retailers the first tube recognized by the
Now, Colgate is sharing its innovative technology with competitors as part of its campaign to transform one of the most widely used forms of plastic packaging that until now could not be recycled.
“Colgate wants to make tubes a part of the circular economy by keeping this plastic productive and eliminating waste,” said
“If we can standardize 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 them.”
In addition to sharing details of its technology, including information subject to Colgate patent applications filed in the U.S. and globally, Colgate has engaged with packaging and recycling stakeholders -- including end consumers -- to build awareness and acceptance of the “ready-to-recycle” tube. And Colgate engineers are already sharing the Company’s plans at key packaging forums and other industry meetings.
Mr. Wallace said the decision to freely share the tube technology aligns with the Company’s values and sustainability goals. It also contributes to its ongoing work supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. The Foundation’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.
“In a new plastics economy, plastic never becomes waste or pollution. To achieve this vision, we must eliminate all problematic and unnecessary plastic items, innovate to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and circulate all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment,” said Sander Defruyt, New Plastics Economy Lead at the
Most of today’s toothpaste tubes are made from sheets of plastic laminate – usually a combination of different plastics – often sandwiched around a thin layer of aluminum. The mix of materials makes it impossible to recycle through conventional methods.
To make its recyclable tube, Colgate chose High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), the “No. 2” plastic used to make milk jugs and other plastic bottles. Chosen because it is already widely recycled, HDPE had been thought to be too rigid to make a squeezable tube. Colgate engineers figured out how to combine different grades and thicknesses of HDPE laminate into a tube that meets recycling standards, protects the product and holds up to the demands of high-speed production, all while remaining comfortably squeezable.
To earn APR recognition, the Company also had to demonstrate that the tube material could be reused to make new plastic bottles and would successfully navigate the screens and conveyor belts used to sort recyclables. The tube -- from invention through APR recognition in June -- was developed over more than five years. The Company is currently seeking similar recognition from Plastic Recyclers Europe.
Colgate’s pioneering work with APR, which sets recyclability standards for
Thomas DiPiazza 212-310-2670