Colgate’s Recyclable Toothpaste Tube an Australian-First

Colgate’s Recyclable Toothpaste Tube an Australian-First

American multinational Colgate-Palmolive has announced the Australian launch of a new toothpaste featuring a tube that is fully recyclable – and the first of its kind in Australia.

The product, Colgate Smile for Good, a toothpaste formula “made of ingredients of 99.7% natural origin”, comes in a toothpaste tube classified as recyclable under the Australasian Recycling Label Program. Manufactured from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) – the same plastic used to make food containers and two-litre milk bottles – the plastic tube can be placed in yellow kerbside recycling bins at the end of use.

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Colgate’s new recyclable toothpaste tube is an industry game-changer.

With Australians producing 540kg of household waste per person, each year, this recyclable packaging is an industry game-changer. Standard toothpaste tubes are generally made from a mix of plastics inserted around a thin layer of aluminium. Separating the materials is what makes these tubes difficult to recycle. As a result, roughly 50 million tubes are sent to Australian landfills each year.

While the Colgate engineers were initially unsure whether they could develop a squeezable tube from rigid HDPE plastic, they were finally successful in combining different grades and thicknesses of HDPE into a tube that met both recycling standards and FMCG production demands.

It took five years to get the new packaging technology to market, and now Colgate is sharing it with other companies to help the industry transition to sustainable packaging.

“Making toothpaste tubes part of the circular economy will help keep plastic productive and eliminate waste,” said Simon Petersen, General Manager, Colgate-Palmolive South Pacific.

“Colgate-Palmolive wants all toothpaste tubes to meet the same third-party recycling standards that we’ve achieved, so we are openly sharing our technology with toothpaste competitors as well as manufacturers of all kinds of tubes.”


Brooke Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), the organisation that runs the Australasian Recycling Label Program, commented: “It’s fantastic to see companies striving to phase out difficult to recycle materials, innovating to find recyclable alternatives and sharing those learnings and technology to help transform the wider market.”

According to a recent company survey, 70% of respondents are concerned by the impact products have on the planet and their health. Colgate Smile for Good addresses these concerns with its recyclable packaging and a responsibly made toothpaste formula that is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)-free, vegan-friendly, gluten-free and sugar-free.

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The recyclable tube is a part of the company’s commitment to a circular economy and its work with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. It comes on the back of its other sustainability-focused initiatives such as its Bamboo Charcoal Toothbrush and partnership with TerraCycle, a global leader in recycling difficult-to-recycle materials.

Colgate-Palmolive is aiming for zero waste packaging – 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging – by 2025 across its operations worldwide.

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Images via Colgate-Palmolive.

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