A few months after a similar announcement by Henkel, Procter & Gamble (P&G) is committing to switch their toothpaste tubes to recyclable HDPE tubes. The transition will start in January 2021 with the Crest and Oral-B global oral care brands and Blend-a-med in Europe. The full conversion of is expected by 2025 in North America and Europe.

Albéa’s Greenleaf Generation 2 tube technology

Toothpaste tubes are used by millions of consumers every day; however, its multi-material construction poses a challenge for recycling facilities around the globe. The solution to this is the HDPE – High-Density Polyethylene – tube, which provides the same product protection as current tubes, and which has been certified by North American and European recycling bodies to be compatible with existing recycling technologies. These HDPE tubes can be recycled where collection programs exist,” explained P&G.

Procter & Gamble is in discussions with several HDPE tube suppliers and has already reached an agreement with Albéa to start using its proprietary Greenleaf Generation 2 tube technology.

Albéa’s Greenleaf Generation 2 tubes are the first to be recognized as recyclable by the APR (Association of Plastic Recyclers) in North America and by RecyClass and SUEZ.circpack in Europe. “These certifications confirm that the tubes can be recycled within the existing HDPE bottles recycling streams,” said Albéa.

Approved by recyclers

To earn the APR recognition, Albéa Group had to demonstrate that its tubes could be converted into quality post-consumer HDPE resin that could then be reused to make new plastic bottles.

RecyClass, an independent cross-industry European platform, certifies that Procter & Gamble’s toothpaste tube is compatible with HDPE recycling and that the whole packaging (with its cap) does not have a negative impact on the European HDPE container recycling.

Toothpaste tubes are not largely recyclable today; with the RecyClass certification for Albéa’s Greenleaf Generation 2 technology used by P&G, however, we are on the right track towards increasing both the design for recycling awareness for tubes as well as increasing recycling quality and rates for the HDPE rigids stream in Europe,” highlighted Paolo Glerean, RecyClass Chairman.

In addition, SUEZ.circpack has tested the sortability of Procter & Gamble’s tubes, confirming that the tubes will flow into the correct stream and be recycled with the HDPE materials.

Our leading oral care brands touch millions of people around the world. This new packaging innovation will contribute to making the toothpaste tubes recyclable at scale in existing recycling streams, hence reducing our footprint and striving for circular solutions. It’s no longer about if or what we can do, but how quickly we can do it,” concluded Virginie Helias, P&G’s Chief Sustainability Officer.

In February, Colgate-Palmolive launched its first HDPE toothpaste tube.

The launch of these HDPE tubes by major oral care players will thus enable millions of households to recycle their toothpaste packaging in existing recycling channels.