The tubes will be available in March 2022 across four Colgate lines—Cavity Protection, Max Fresh Cool, Total Whitening and Optic White. The packaging will have artwork that says, “Recycle Me!” to alert consumers to the new recyclability.
The company expects every tube in its portfolio to be recyclable in the United States in 2023 and globally in 2025.
Colgate’s plastic tubes had been made from a thin layer of aluminum and several types of plastic. Most municipal recycling programs can’t recycle products made from mixed materials, making it clear the company needed to develop single material packaging for its toothpaste, according to Greg Corra, worldwide director of global packaging and sustainability at Colgate-Palmolive.
Corra told Fast Company that the key to developing single-material packaging was by mixing and matching different grades of the same material, in this case, high-density polyethylene. The new tube is classified as #2 plastic.
The cap for the tube is made from polypropylene, which is classified as #5 plastic. In most cases, consumers will be able to throw the tube and the cap into the recycling bin. But local recycling rules sometimes vary, and some recyclers prefer that the cap be removed before placing both the tube and the cap in the bin, according to the article.
Once the tube was approved, Colgate made its design open-source so that other brands could adopt it, and Colgate worked with third-party factories to manufacture this new tube, meaning other brands that rely on the same suppliers will be able to easily switch to the new design, according to Corra.