Colgate launches vegan toothpaste in 100% recyclable plastic tubes

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

The vegan-certified toothpaste is available in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Slovakia, among other EU countries (Image: Colgate-Palmolive)
The vegan-certified toothpaste is available in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Slovakia, among other EU countries (Image: Colgate-Palmolive)

Related tags: Colgate-palmolive, Toothpaste, vegan, Sustainable packaging, Recyclable materials

Colgate-Palmolive has launched a vegan-certified toothpaste line packed in fully recyclable plastic tubes across the UK and EU and says it will share the technology with competitors to drive sustainable change.

The personal care major’s ‘Smile for Good’ line is certified vegan and cruelty-free by The Vegan Society and certified organic through COSMOS Ecocert. The two toothpaste varieties – one for protection and one for whitening – launched into UK retailers this month, including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Boots, as well as online on Amazon. The products will launch into Tesco and Morrisons next month.

Across Europe, the line has been launched in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Denmark, Sweden and Italy.

100% recyclable toothpaste tubes for a circular economy

Made using 99.7% natural ingredients, the toothpastes are packaged in 100% recyclable tubes made from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) – the same plastic used to manufacture milk jugs and plastic bottles. Colgate said the HDPE material had been layered in various grades and thicknesses to meet recycling standards but remained squeezable and flexible for easy use. The secondary packaging was made from recyclable carton.

Colgate-Palmolive kickstarted use of these tubes in November last year in the US, with a transitional roll out across its Tom’s of Maine brand. Colgate said the overall goal was to achieve 100% recyclable packaging across its entire portfolio by 2025.

“Colgate wants to make tubes a part of the circular economy by keeping this plastic productive and eliminating waste,”​ said Noel Wallace, CEO and president of Colgate-Palmolive.

Importantly, Wallace said Colgate-Palmolive would share the tube technology with competitors as part of a push to transform the entire category, given toothpaste accounted for an estimated 20 billion tubes annually around the world.

“If we can standardize 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,”​ he said. 

'If we can standardize recyclable tubes among all companies, we all win' - Noel Wallace, CEO and president of Colgate-Palmolive
'If we can standardize recyclable tubes among all companies, we all win' - Noel Wallace, CEO and president of Colgate-Palmolive

The HDPE tube had already received recognition from The Association of Plastic Recyclers and RecyClass – an initiative working to improve the recyclability of packaging – both of which set recyclability standards for North America and Europe, respectively.

Toothpaste could ‘potentially shape the future of a staple household product’

According to GlobalData’s 2019 Q3 Global Consumer Survey, 44% of consumers prefer recyclable packaging in beauty and grooming products and Arian Bassari, consumer analyst at GlobalData, said this launch could have an important impact on the category.

“Colgate’s new ‘Smile for Good’ toothpaste in sustainable packaging could potentially shape the future of a staple household product,”​ Bassari said.

“…Colgate’s ongoing efforts to counter the current environmental crisis are commendable and will influence the dynamics of the dental care market in the coming years. Colgate has further endeared itself with environmentally-conscious consumers by sharing details of the tube’s manufacturing process with industry competitors, in order to further cut down on the overall global use of non-recyclable plastics,”​ he said.

Recyclable tube innovation: plastic or paperboard?

In October last year, beauty major L’Oréal announced it had developed a paper-based cosmetic tube with global packaging firm Albéa​. It said industrial production and a market launch for skin care should happen this year.

Finnish renewables major Stora Enso – who had developed a paperboard material to make cosmetic tubes – said bio-based packaging would have a strong place in future packaging developments​ for the industry. Polythene UK’s MD agreed, noting there was ample opportunity for the beauty and personal care category to consider bio-based polythene​ for its secondary packaging.

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