Hopefully this will reduce the 20 billion tubes that go to landfill every year.
Colgate-Palmolive has just announced its creation of the first-ever recyclable toothpaste tube. The tube has been five years in the making and was just recognized by the Association of Plastic Recyclers. It will hit store shelves by 2020 under the Tom's of Maine brand, which Colgate-Palmolive owns, and eventually the company plans to convert all of its tubes to the recyclable kind.
Redesigning the toothpaste tube has been a challenge for the industry, as it is conventionally made from multiple layers of plastic laminate with aluminum mixed in to protect the flavor and fluoride. The mixed materials make it impossible to separate and recycle properly, which is why an estimated 20 billion tubes to go landfill every year. A press release describes the invention process:
"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... recognized that they could use more than one grade of HDPE in their designs. The team then tested a dozen different combinations – using from six to 20 layers – to find the recipe that allows people to comfortably squeeze out all the toothpaste, protects the integrity of the product, and meets the demands of high-speed production."
Trials have proven that these new tubes can get mixed into the recycling stream, as well as ground up and turned successfully into new plastic bottles.
Ann Tracy, a VP at the company, said this new tube moves them closer to the goal of 100 percent recyclable packaging; and fortunately, it sounds like the innovation won't stop there. Taylor added, "We’re exploring new ingredients and models, including TerraCycle’s Loop initiative for reusable, refillable packaging."
I've written before about the Loop initiative, which has convinced a number of major brands, including Crest, Tropicana, Haagen-Dazs, Tide, and Dove on board with selling products in reusable containers. It's good to hear that Colgate-Palmolive is part of that movement.