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Hallelujah! Colgate Just Came Out With A Recyclable Toothpaste Tube

Emma Loewe
Author:
June 18, 2019
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy
June 18, 2019

Your toothpaste tube is in for a much-deserved makeover. After five years of development, Colgate has announced a new one that can be recycled curbside.

If you're wondering why tubes weren't already recyclable, it turns out that making them more earth-friendly is harder than you might expect. According to an interview with the Association of Plastic Recyclers in Plastics in Packaging, tubes are one of the last remaining forms of plastics packaging we use every day that still can't be recycled. (Here's some other stuff you might be recycling wrong.)

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Since the collapsible metal tubes of the olden days went out of style, companies have been making theirs out of a combination of plastics that are sandwiched between an aluminum layer to preserve the paste inside. This mixing of materials means that the tubes can't be broken down in a traditional recycling facility. In search of a nimble, recyclable plastic material, Colgate landed on a combination of different types of high-density polyethylene (HDPE)—the stuff you'll find on milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles.

The new tube shouldn't feel much different from your current one, and it will be available worldwide by 2025. Rollout will begin next year with Colgate's natural toothpaste brand, Tom's of Maine. Colgate—which is sold in over 200 countries and used in more than half of the households around the world by some estimates—has also partnered with the innovative new Loop program to pilot ways that their toothpaste vessels can eventually be reused.

The brand eventually plans to open-source their tube design so other companies can follow their lead so, hopefully, some of your other balms, creams, and pastes are in for an upgrade too. Because in an age when we have to start proactively healing the planet—not just harming it less—sending billions of empty tubes to the landfill every year really isn't an option anymore.

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Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.