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Recyclable toothpaste tubes launched by Unilever

Posted By : Fiona Fernandes   |   Date : Aug 20 2021 9:57 PM

Recyclable toothpaste tubes launched by Unilever

Unilever’s latest development is the fruit of the four years. The Groups oral care brands plans to convert the entire global toothpaste portfolio to recyclable tubes by 2025. The tubes will be launched in France with the with the company’s leading oral care brand Signal, followed by India and the rest of the markets. The innovation contributes to Unilever’s commitment to ensure that 100% of its plastic packaging is designed to be reusable, recyclable or compostable, and its ambition to help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells.

Ideally the toothpaste tubes are made combining plastics and aluminium, this makes the packaging flexible but difficult to recycle. The innovation made by the global consumer brand will use material made mostly of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which is one of the most widely recyclable plastics globally. It will be the thinnest material at 220 microns available in the toothpaste market, reducing the amount of plastic needed for each tube. The innovation was done also keeping the focus on protecting the quality and the taste of the product. The Group also plans to make this innovation available for the other companies to adopt as this will make the industry overall to move towards a sustainable future.  

Samir Singh, Executive Vice President, Global Skin Cleansing and Oral Care said: “Plastic pollution is undoubtably one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time. We can see its impact on our planet every day, including the billions of toothpaste tubes dumped into landfills every year.”

The design has been approved by RecyClass, which sets the recyclability standard for Europe, as well as laboratories in Asia and North America. Meeting these rigorous requirements mean the new tubes can be recycled within standard HDPE recycling streams.

Babu Cherian, R&D Oral Care Packaging Director at Unilever said: “Recyclable tubes mark a key milestone in our packaging journey and, more significantly, they have the potential to transform the whole oral care industry.”

Alan Conner, Vice President - Europe, EPL (formerly Essel Propack) said: “When it comes to making oral care sustainable, it has been challenging to develop a product that is recyclable without adding extra plastic to the tube. EPL is a global market leading supplier of toothpaste tubes and is delighted to support this breakthrough innovation representing a major turning point for the oral care industry and is a key first step in reducing plastic waste, enabling consumers to minimise their impact on the planet. Given the size and scale of Unilever, their commitment to convert 100% of its global toothpaste portfolio by 2025 will unquestionably lead others to take action as well.”

Unilever is working with global recycling organisations to help ensure that the new tubes are collected and recycled. The journey of a thousand steps begins with the first ones and rightly so, this is only the start of Unilever’s oral care journey. Their brands including Signal also plan to introduce more PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastic into their recyclable tubes by 2022 in France and other European markets. This will significantly reduce the use of virgin plastic and support the move towards a circular economy.


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