After 149 years, Colgate moves to make its 9 billion toothpaste tubes recyclable | Totally Vegan Buzz
After 149 years, Colgate moves to make its 9 billion toothpaste tubes recyclable
Image: Colgate

Toothpaste giant Colgate is finally going green by relaunching four of its best-selling lines in recyclable tubes.

The world’s leading toothpaste brand Colgate is finally launching new recyclable tubes in a bid to become more eco friendly.

The multinational consumer goods company has been attempting to improve the environmental impact of its popular toothpaste tubes, which are primarily made of plastic and aluminium, for more than five years.

Traditional tubes are impossible to recycle and billions of single-use tubes end up in the landfill every year.

Recyclable tubes

The oral hygiene company first trialed a recyclable tube made from high density polyethylene (HDPE) for its vegan Smile for Good range in 2021.

Although HDPE is still plastic, it is much easier to recycle. It is commonly used to make detergent bottles, milk jugs, and vitamin bottles.

However, since the material is rather rigid, it is pretty hard to squeeze toothpaste out. But Colgate’s engineering team made a ‘breakthrough’ to overcome that problem and now four of its best-selling lines – Cavity Protection, Max Fresh Cool, Total Whitening, and Optic White —will be rolled out with the recyclable packaging from March.

To play its part in saving the environment, Colgate has made its design open-source so that other brands can adopt it.

“Colgate wants to make tubes a part of the circular economy by keeping this plastic productive and eliminating waste,” said Colgate-Palmolive’s chief executive, Noel Wallace, in a statement.

“If we can standardize recyclable tubes among all companies, we all win. We can align on these common standards for tubes and still compete with what’s inside them.”

 Will customers recycle the tubes?

All four lines of the toothpaste giant will have artwork that says “Recycle Me!” to draw consumers’ attention towards responsibly disposing the tubes.

However, there is no guarantee consumers will recycle it. Moreover, according to a report by The Guardian even if they do, some recyclers end up sending plastic to landfills, anyway. 

So, while the big question of whether consumers will recycle the tubes looms large, Colgate is continuing to explore sustainable new materials, such as compostable packaging, and creating refillable containers.

“We’ve got 9 billion tubes around the world to worry about right now, so we had to do something now, but we are looking into next-generation materials,” Greg Corra, worldwide director of global packaging and sustainability at Colgate’s parent company Colgate-Palmolive told Fast Company.

 “We’ve got several irons in the fire.”

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