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Colgate-Palmolive's new recyclable tube is made from the same plastic used to make bottles, so it recycles like a bottle, and squeezes easy like a tube. (Photo: Business Wire)
Colgate-Palmolive's new recyclable tube is made from the same plastic used to make bottles, so it recycles like a bottle, and squeezes easy like a tube. (Photo: Business Wire)

Colgate-Palmolive has shipped its first recyclable HDPE toothpaste tube. Under the Company’s Tom’s of Maine brand, Antiplaque & Whitening toothpaste was delivered to retailers recently.

It is claimed as the first tube recognized by the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR).

Tom’s will complete the switch to recycled tubes in 2020, when the Colgate brand will start the transition in Europe and North America. By 2025, the Company will complete needed modifications to tube-making equipment at more than a dozen of its facilities around the world.

To make its recyclable tube, Colgate chose High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), the “No. 2” plastic used to make milk jugs and other plastic bottles. Chosen because it is already widely recycled, HDPE had been thought to be too rigid to make a squeezable tube.

Colgate engineers figured out how to combine different grades and thicknesses of HDPE laminate into a tube that meets recycling standards, protects the product and holds up to the demands of high-speed production, all while remaining comfortably squeezable.

To earn APR recognition, the Company also had to demonstrate that the tube material could be reused to make new plastic bottles and would successfully navigate the screens and conveyor belts used to sort recyclables.

Colgate’s pioneering work with APR, which sets recyclability standards for North America, has already made a difference. Colgate proposed the idea of a recyclable HDPE tube and worked with the organization to ensure alignment with its standards and tests.

Recently, making use of the testing standards established by Colgate, one major tube maker, Essel Propack, earned APR recognition, and another, Albéa, is working towards recognition.

“Colgate wants to make tubes a part of the circular economy by keeping this plastic productive and eliminating waste,” said Noel Wallace, Chief Executive Officer and President of Colgate-Palmolive. “This advancement can make a significant difference in the marketplace today as we test new packaging materials, product formats and refillable models to reduce our use of plastic.”

Now, Colgate is sharing its innovative technology with competitors as part of its campaign to transform one of the most widely used forms of plastic packaging that until now could not be recycled.

In addition to sharing details of its technology, including information subject to Colgate patent applications filed in the U.S. and globally, Colgate has engaged with packaging and recycling stakeholders -- including end consumers -- to build awareness and acceptance of the “ready-to-recycle” tube.

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