Toothpaste tube recycling on the way

·2-min read

There are millions of reasons to smile about a world-first that transforms one of the most widely used forms of plastic packaging to make it recyclable.

After five years of research and development Colgate says it has developed a first-of-its-kind plastic recyclable toothpaste tube in a bid to reduce the 50 million tubes that end up in landfill every year - enough to stretch twice across Australia.

Simon Petersen, General Manager of Colgate-Palmolive South Pacific, says it has been tricky to develop because most toothpaste tubes are made from sheets of plastic laminate, sandwiched around a thin layer of aluminium, with the mix of materials making it unsuitable for kerbside recycling.

The new tube is made from high density polyethylene (HDPE), the same plastic used to make recyclable milk and detergent bottles.

"This makes our new recyclable tube technology a significant development, globally, as well as Australia," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

The tube, which is currently only in use for the brand's Smile for Good toothpaste, does not need to be cleaned, just emptied as far as possible before being disposed of in the yellow kerbside recycling bin.

The goal is to have all Colgate products recyclable by the end of 2025, and the technology is being shared for free with other manufacturers that are now engineering their own HDPE laminate tubes.

"This project isn't about us, it's about something bigger," Mr Petersen said.

"By sharing our technology we aim to initiate a global shift to recyclable HDPE toothpaste tubes. Our dream is to have all tubes (not just toothpaste) be recycled," he said.

Colgate was also engaging with packaging and recycling stakeholders to build awareness and acceptance of the "ready-to-recycle" tube.

"The world's largest tube makers have now introduced HDPE recyclable tubes of their own, and leading toothpaste manufacturers are on a path toward recyclable tubes," he said.