According to a recent Colgate-Palmolive survey, almost two thirds of people in the UK are not aware that toothpaste tubes cannot be recyled [1]. Indeed, most of today’s toothpaste tubes are made from sheets of plastic laminate - usually a combination of different plastics - sandwiched around a thin layer of aluminium. The mix of materials makes it impossible to recycle through conventional methods.

Packed in a HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) tube, the Smile for Good toothpaste changes the game. HDPE is a polymer that is widely used for milk containers and other plastic bottles and is massively recycled.

Made by Albéa, this tube is the first to be recognized as recyclable by the APR (Association of Plastic Recyclers) and RecyClass (an initiative that works on improving the recyclability of packaging), which sets recyclability standards for North America and Europe respectively.

According to Colgate-Palmolive, toothpaste alone accounts for an estimated 20 billion tubes annually around the world. To limit the impact of the most widely used forms of plastic packaging that up until now could not be recycled., Colgate has decided to share the technology with competitors.

"Colgate wants to make tubes a part of the circular economy by keeping this plastic productive and eliminating waste. If we can standardise recyclable tubes among all companies, we all win. We want all toothpaste tubes - and eventually all kinds of tubes - to meet the same third-party recycling standards that we’ve achieved. We can align on these common standards for tubes and still compete with what’s inside them," commented Noel Wallace, Chief Executive Officer and President of Colgate-Palmolive.

The Colgate Smile for Good Toothpaste is available to purchase from the following retailers, from January: Sainsbury’s, Boots, Superdrug, Wilko, Waitrose, Ocado and Amazon, and from February in Tesco and Morrisons. In the U.S., the tube will debut under the company’s Tom’s of Maine brand in 2020.

Together with the recent launch of the Colgate Bamboo Charcoal Toothbrush and TerraCycle partnership, Smile for Good is a way Colgate is improving the sustainability profile of its products to help achieve its aim of 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.

For Albéa, this is a new step towards the development of more responsible packaging solutions in the beauty and personal care industry. Last November, the packaging supplier presented a paper tube project together with L’Oréal.

Today we are accelerating the development of recyclable packaging and contributing to circularity. By partnering with our customers, suppliers and recognized associations such as the APR and RecyClass, we demonstrate our commitment to tomorrow,” said Gilles Swyngedauw, Vice President Sustainability, Marketing and Innovation at Albéa.