Colgate has created open fully recyclable tube technology that the beauty industry can use

The beauty industry is responsible for billions of empty containers being thrown out every year, much of them unrecycled and unrecyclable, particularly tubes. Why? They’re often made from a combination of plastics layered together (or plastics and metal), which makes it impossible for recycling facilities to deal with them, so they simply end up in landfill.

Global brand Colgate, best known for making toothpaste, has created a fully recyclable tube and has decided to open the technology it created to all industries so that anyone who uses tubes in their packaging can take advantage of this sustainable development. Professional Beauty chats with General Manager for Colgate-Palmolive South Pacific Simon Petersen about this new technology and where you can access it to use in your brand’s packaging moving forward.

PB: Why is it innovative and sustainable?

“We are the first tube to gain external recognition from major plastics recycling trade associations in the US and EU. Our tube has also been categorised as recyclable under the Australasian Recycling Label Program, a packaging recyclability program run by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO). Most of today’s toothpaste tubes are made from sheets of plastic laminate, sandwiched around a thin layer of aluminium. The mix of materials makes the tubes difficult to recycle through traditional recycling channels such as kerbside recycling. This results in some 50 million tubes going into landfill annually in Australia. Colgate’s tube is made from high density polyethylene, the same plastic used to make milk and detergent bottles that are already widely recycled.” 

PB: How can it best be used in the beauty industry?

“Our hope is to have all tubes (not just toothpaste) be recycled in practice and at scale. So the beauty industry can also take on this technology for their products. 

PB: How did Colgate make the decision to share the technology?

“This project isn’t about us, it’s about something bigger. By sharing our technology and what we’ve learned about making tubes from HDPE, we aim to initiate a global shift to recyclable HDPE toothpaste tubes. Our dream is to have all tubes (not just toothpaste) be recycled in practice and at scale.”

PB: What are their concrete sustainability goals?

“Our mission is to make all our products recyclable by 2025, this includes all tubes coming from our factories to be ‘recycle ready’ by Dec 31, 2025.” 

PB: How will they help small brands on board the technology?

“We are sharing details of this technology which includes information that is subject to Colgate patent applications filed in the U.S. and globally. Our Colgate engineers are also sharing the Company’s plans at key packaging forums and other industry meetings. In addition, Colgate has engaged with packaging and recycling stakeholders, including end users, to begin to build awareness and acceptance of the “ready-to-recycle” tube.” 

PB: How brands can get in touch with Colgate to get a hold of the technology/materials?

“Colgate experts have conducted some 40 sessions — from one-on-one meetings with other companies to presentations at packaging forums — to promote HDPE recyclable tubes. Following our pioneering efforts, the world’s largest tube makers have now introduced HDPE recyclable tubes of their own, and leading toothpaste manufacturers are on a path toward recyclable tubes.” 

Other packaging makers are following suit. Albea has partnered with GlaxoSmithKline and Proctor and Gamble to create a fully recyclable toothpaste tube, although it uses proprietary instead of open technology (Greenleaf 2 laminate tube technology). They have also created a 45% paper tube although it is unclear if this is recyclable, or uses less energy to create.

Contact Colgate here if you’d like to learn more about the technology or use it in your beauty packaging.

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