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Crest and Oral-B Toothpaste Tubes Going Recyclable

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P&G Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer David S. Taylor and the company’s Lima, Ohio plant, Photo from P&G 2020 report

Procter & Gamble will soon make it possible for millions of Americans to recycle their toothpaste tubes. The company recently announced that it will transition its Crest, Oral-B, and UK Blend-a-med lines to recyclable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers. 

According to Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, the switch will begin across brands in January 2021, continuing until the conversion’s completion in 2025. Crest and Oral-B are the world’s leading oral care brands.

“P&G Oral Care started our sustainability journey many years back and continue to reduce our footprint. To drive a more circular supply chain, all of our production sites globally are qualified as sending zero manufacturing waste to landfill, and our sites across the United States, Canada, and Europe purchase 100 percent renewable electricity,” said Procter & Gamble Health Care Chief Executive Officer Steve Bishop in the release. “There is much yet to be done; however, we are proud of the steps we are taking with our leading brands, Crest in North America, and Oral B and Blend-a-med in Europe, to achieve recyclable tubes in the years ahead.”

The news comes after Colgate-Palmolive revealed last year that it had completed the design of a recyclable tube, recognized as the first-of-its-kind, for its Colgate toothpaste line.

The Procter & Gamble Oral Care initiative is part of the company’s 2030 sustainability goals and its commitment to reach 100 percent recyclable or reusable packaging by 2030. Additionally, Procter & Gamble has pledged to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half at its facilities.

Photo from P&G Doing What’s Right

“Toothpaste tubes are used by millions of consumers every day; however, its multi-material construction poses a challenge for recycling facilities around the globe,” the company said in the release. “The solution to this is the HDPE – High-Density Polyethylene – tube, which provides the same product protection as current tubes, and which has been certified by North American and European recycling bodies to be compatible with existing recycling technologies. These HDPE tubes can be recycled where collection programs exist.”

Procter & Gamble says that it is currently in talks with a number of HDPE tube suppliers to boost the sustainability of its toothpaste tubes. The company has already established an agreement with Albéa to use its exclusive Greenleaf Generation 2 tube technology. The technology makes the tubes recyclable in any place where collection schemes exist.

“Greenleaf Generation 2 tubes are recognized by the North American Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) as well as RecyClass and SUEZ.circpack in Europe and can be recycled within the existing, effective HDPE bottles recycling stream,” the company notes in the announcement.

Procter & Gamble says that to earn APR recognition, the toothpaste tubes’ ability to be converted into quality post-consumer HDPE resin and remade into plastic bottles was tested.

The company employs nearly 100,000 people and has plants across the country including in Phoenix, Kansas City, Lima, Ohio, and Augusta, Georgia. Procter & Gamble reported annual sales of $71 billion for the 2020 fiscal year.

“Our leading oral care brands touch millions of people around the world,” said Procter & Gamble Chief Sustainability Officer Virginie Helias. “This new packaging innovation will contribute to making the toothpaste tubes recyclable at scale in existing recycling streams, hence reducing our footprint and striving for circular solutions. It’s no longer about if or what we can do, but how quickly we can do it.”

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