Colgate Introduces a Toothbrush That Uses 80% Less Plastic

The Colgate Keep has an aluminum handle with a replaceable plastic brush head.

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Brushing teeth thoroughly and regularly is a good habit to have. Its sole downside is generating large quantities of plastic waste that cannot be easily recycled. In the United States, an estimated 495 million toothbrushes were purchased in 2020 alone, which translates to a whole lot of plastic going to landfill.

Colgate, a leading dental hygiene brand, has come up with a clever plan to reduce plastic waste by redesigning its toothbrushes. It has just launched the Colgate Keep, a manual toothbrush that uses 80% less plastic than a conventional one. It has a lightweight aluminum handle, designed to last a lifetime, and snap-on replaceable brush heads. In other words, it's the same concept as an electric toothbrush, except it's manual. 

For the past 10 years, Colgate has worked with TerraCycle to recycle approximately five million used toothbrushes and other oral care devices, diverting these from landfill. One of its brands, Tom's of Maine, launched a toothbrush made from 80% post-consumer recycled plastic, also recyclable through TerraCycle. While these initiatives are praiseworthy, the new Colgate Keep toothbrush takes it a step further by shrinking the overall quantity of plastic needed to brush and ultimately discard or recycle. 

New toothbrushes with a replaceable head.


For those interested in toothbrush technicalities:

"Keep will come with two bristle variants (Deep Clean with Floss-Tip bristles and Whitening with spiral polishing bristles), as well as a cheek and tongue cleaner on the back of the brush head to get rid of more bacteria... [The] 100% aluminum handle is long-lasting and comes in two colors, navy or silver. The outer cardboard packaging is made with 60% recycled content, all of which is recyclable."

Colgate's move is similar to Dove's recent launch of a refillable deodorant stick, also in an aluminum case. There appears to be a slow but steady trend toward lifelong packaging and investing in an item that's intended to last for many years. While it benefits the company by ensuring loyal customers, it helps the environment even more by taking a stand against the absurdity of making transient products out of a material that lasts for centuries. 

In its 2025 Sustainability & Social Impact Strategy report, Colgate says it wants to reduce toothbrush-related plastic waste by 50%. Furthermore, it will eliminate one-third of new plastics used in packaging as part of a transition to 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025. 

The Keep toothbrush is a logical step in the right direction. It makes perfect sense to hold on to toothbrush handles and replace only the head, rather than throwing the whole thing out, as we've been doing for years. If this catches on, hopefully it could become the new normal for toothbrush makers the world over. A starter kit with one handle and two heads will cost $9.99 and a refill kit with 2 heads will be $4.99.