Colgate’s Recyclable Tube First to be Recognized by Association of Plastic Recyclers
Breakthrough New Design Gives Reason to Smile
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Colgate has finalized the design of a first-of-its kind recyclable toothpaste tube that sets a new standard for the industry, making the toothpaste you rely on for a healthier smile part of the solution for a healthier planet. (Photo: Business Wire)
Colgate has finalized the design of a first-of-its kind recyclable
toothpaste tube that sets a new standard in the industry.
Under development for more than five years, the tube will debut under the Company’s Tom’s of Maine brand in the U.S. in 2020. Roll out to select global markets under the Colgate brand will follow. The Company plans to fully convert to recyclable tubes by 2025, when all of its products will be in 100% recyclable packaging.
“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,” said
Plastic tubes are a popular choice in a varied range of product
categories – from cosmetics and personal care products to
pharmaceuticals and food. Toothpaste alone accounts for an estimated 20
billion tubes annually around the world. Said APR President
Development of the Recyclable Tube
Most toothpaste tubes are made from sheets of plastic laminate – usually a combination of different plastics – often sandwiched around a thin layer of aluminum that protects the toothpaste’s flavor and fluoride. The mix of materials is pressed together into a single film, making it impossible to recycle through conventional methods.
To make a recyclable tube, Colgate chose high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the widely recycled “No. 2” plastic popular for bottle making. But because HDPE is rigid, it isn’t well suited for ultra-thin laminate sheets and soft, squeezable tubes.
Colgate’s “eureka moment” came when Company packaging engineers working
To achieve APR recognition, Colgate also conducted tests to show that its toothpaste tube could navigate the screens and conveyor belts at the critically important Materials Recovery Facilities that sort recyclables. Colgate used Radio Frequency Identification tags to track the tubes and prove they would be properly sorted with plastic bottles. And to demonstrate that the recyclable tube material could be repurposed after recycling – another critical part of gaining APR recognition – the Company ground up the tubes to successfully make new plastic bottles.
Building Support for Recycling the Tube
Making a recyclable tube is only part of the challenge. While APR
provides guidelines for recyclability in
The Company has help. It is already partnering with several groups,
including More Recycling, a data and technology firm that works with
companies and others to navigate the recycling infrastructure and
support sustainable choices; and
“Colgate people are excited about this challenge and meeting our goal of
100% recyclable packaging,” said
Thomas DiPiazza, 212-310-2670