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Colgate Toothpaste Designs a Recyclable Tube

Colgate Smiles LogoIn their current form, toothpaste tubes sold in stores are impossible to recycle because the mix of plastics and aluminum contained in the tube. Soon enough, you will be able to throw that tube in your recycle bin proudly. You will at least, with one company as Colgate designs a recyclable tube that they will release to market.

Colgate says it has finalized a design for a “first-of-its-kind recyclable toothpaste tube.” The change is part of the company’s serious efforts to have all of its products use recyclable packaging by 2025.

What Did Colgate Do

It took the company five years to develop the new tube.
Colgate said it originally thought it could use a commonly recycled type of plastic called “high-density polyethylene” for the new tube. They discovered that it’s not squeezable enough for toothpaste.
The new tube will be released in the United States early in 2020 under Colgate’s natural-products brand, Tom’s of Maine. The tubes will eventually debut across all of its brands within in the next five-and-a-half years.
Colgate wants to expand the availability of the new plastic, too.
The design earned the approval of the Association of Plastic Recyclers, an organization that sets recyclable guidelines for North America. The tube has to earn recognition from similar organizations around the world before it can be sold globally.
“Once we’ve proven the new tube with consumers, we intend to offer the technology to the makers of plastic tubes for all kinds of products,” said Justin Skala, executive VP and chief growth and strategy officer for Colgate-Palmolive, said in a press release. “By encouraging others to use this technology, we can have an even bigger impact and increase the long-term market viability of this solution.”

Of the millions of tubes of toothpaste sold in the U.S. each year, most end up in landfills. The tubes aren’t accepted at typical recycling facilities. Colgate spent the last five years designing a new type of tube that can change that.


Colgate recognized the scale of its own challenge. “We feel like with our level of penetration, in over half the households in the world, we have a responsibility to participate in reducing plastic issues around the world,” says Ann Tracy, vice president of safety, global sustainability, and supply chain strategy at Colgate-Palmolive.


The Design of the Tube

The first challenge involves changing its manufacturing equipment to handle the new design. The next challenge will be teaching both recycling plants and consumers that toothpaste tubes can go in recycling bins. “It’s not a technical issue,” says Tracy. “It’s more around communication.” Colgate is also part of Loop, a group of major brands experimenting with new reusable packaging.

Finding a new design for a classic toothpaste tube is difficult. Existing toothpaste tubes are optimized to preserve flavor and key ingredients like fluoride, and that couldn’t change. It had to be something that consumers would want to use.


A basic package made out of high-density polyethylene wouldn’t be easy to squeeze and would be difficult to use in the ultra-fine sheets that are used to assemble them. By experimenting with multiple layers of the material in different grades, the engineers were able to find a design that worked. They tested the new tubes at recycling facilities to ensure that they would be sorted correctly and then tested grinding up the packaging to fully recycle it into a new plastic bottle.


Consumers liked the design in tests. The new package is also compatible with the company’s very high-speed equipment for making sheets of plastic and forming tubes, so it can be easily mass-produced.

Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg likes hearing this news. Great toothpaste and a recyclable package is a win/win for consumers. Dr. Rosenberg cares for his patients unlike any other dentist in the South Florida, primarily the Plantation area. Whether you are getting extensive work done like a root canal, Invisalign, crowns, or full dentures, or lighter work such as whitening, fillings, or preventative oral care, this is your dentist’s office. His office is friendly, professional, clean open to new clients.


Dr. Rosenberg is a Miami, Florida native who received his undergrad degree from Emory University and got his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Georgetown University Dental School. He has been in private practice for over 20 years. Dr. Rosenberg is President-Elect of the Broward County Dental Association. He is Vice President of the Broward Dental Research Clinic where has been on the board of directors for five years. He is a member of the Intracoastal Study Club. Professional memberships include the American Dental Association, the Florida Dental Association, the Atlantic Coast District Dental Association, and the Broward County Dental Association.

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