Every year in the UK alone we dispose around 250 million empty toothpaste tubes. Since the majority is made from non-recyclable plastic, these tubes end up inlandfill to decompose. They'll sit there for quite some time. Plastic decomposition is a 500 years process.
Can we recycle squeezable tubes?
Although squeezable toothpaste tubes are made from recyclables materials, they are difficult to recycle as they're actually made of multiple layers laminated together, almost impossible to separate. This is why it is unusual for councils to collect them as part of your recycling scheme. There are few recycling programs in the UK, like Terracycle, that allow you to recycle oral care products and avoid landfill, but you will need to purchase a special and quite expensive collection box.
Plastic has multiple advantages over aluminium when it comes to tube performance. The choice of using plastic over aluminium is benefiting the pharmaceutical (oral care) industry and their consumers instead of the environment. In fact the main reason why plastic has almost completely replaced aluminium in oral care, is that it reduces product costs (plastic costs less than aluminium). Unlike aluminium, a plastic tube has also the advantage of maintaining its shape after compression, which for supermarkets' shelves is clearly a priority.
The zero-waste options
At today, there are few ways to go plastic-free with your oral care products. The hardcore zero-waste route would be the DIY. You can make your toothpaste with few simple ingredients. See our natural toothpaste recipes for inspiration, which we have been supplying in glass jars and aluminium lids. It comes with a bamboo spatula to apply the paste onto the brush.
More options for 2018
Currently we are working on a new toothpaste formulation that will come in a completely plastic-free, squeezable tube. Both tube and cap made from recyclable aluminium, then boxed in compostable paper. This toothpaste will be available from mid 2018. Also by the end March 2018, we'll be launching our new Toothsoap which will come in a push up Kraft butt-joint tube, fully recyclable after use.