Colgate-Palmolive has officially released its recyclable toothpaste tube made from high density polyethylene (HDPE) with “Recycle Me!” packaging. The plastic is the same used in milk and detergent bottles and requires no extra step before recycling.
The HDPE bottle stream has one of the highest recycling rates at about 30% in the United States. Colgate engineers combined different layers of HDPE laminate at varying thicknesses to produce a soft, squeezable recyclable tube that will also protect the product across roughly 150 brushing occasions during the span of a typical 6 oz tube.
To encourage other brands to transition to recyclable tubes, Colgate shared its recyclable tube know-how with other companies, including competitors, during packaging forums and 1-on-1 meetings.
Colgate-Palmolive is developing a recyclable tube pilot program that will focus on one county or municipality to test how educational efforts can build tube recycling rates. The data will be used to develop best practices for tube recycling to be shared with communities and recyclers.
Colgate hopes that its recycling initiative will build awareness of recyclable tubes among consumers and operators of Materials Recovery Facilities that sort plastic and make resin from recycled plastic.
The recyclable tube is used for Colgate’s White Advanced Sparkling White, Cavity Protection, Max Fresh Cool and Total Whitening. Colgate plans to transition the rest of its toothpaste line by 2023.
Dana Medema, vice president and general manager of oral care, Colgate-Palmolive, North America, said, "As the global toothpaste leader with a brand found in more homes than any other, we want to lead in waste reduction and, in particular, making toothpaste tubes a part of the circular economy. The Recycle Me! tube is designed to educate and engage consumers and the recycling community who are both essential to progress, and we are excited to initiate and learn from our upcoming pilot program.”