Unilever has announced that its oral care brands will switch to recyclable toothpaste tubes for its entire portfolio by 2025 at a global level.
The portfolio includes brands such as Signal, Pepsodent and Closeup.
The recyclable tubes, developed after four years of research, will be available in France and India later this year.
In France, the new tubes will be introduced with Signal's Integral 8 range, which represents over a third (35%) of Unilever’s toothpaste portfolio in the country.
The new tubes are made mostly of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), one of the most widely recyclable plastics globally.
It is also the thinnest plastic material available in the toothpaste market at 220-microns, which will reduce the amount of plastic needed for each tube, Unilever added.
Traditionally, most toothpaste tubes use a combination of plastic and aluminium, which makes them flexible but also difficult to recycle.
Recently, GSK announced plans to launch fully-recyclable toothpaste tubes across its specialist and science-based oral health brands, including Sensodyne, Parodontax, and Aquafresh.
Executive vice-president of global skin cleansing and oral care, Samir Singh, said, “Plastic pollution is undoubtedly 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.
“That’s why I’m proud of this latest packaging innovation, which will see our entire toothpaste portfolio shift to recyclable tubes by 2025. It’s been a long and challenging journey to get to this point, but we hope this transformation will inspire the wider industry to also make the change.”
The packaging has been approved by RecyClass, which sets the recyclability standard for Europe, as well as laboratories in Asia and North America, ensuring that the new tubes can be recycled within standard HDPE recycling streams.
Unilever’s oral care brands partnered with multiple global packaging manufacturers, including EPL (formerly known as Essel Propack), Amcor, Huhtamaki, and Dai Nippon Indonesia (DNPI).
In addition, Unilever consulted with formulation and flavour experts throughout the testing process to ensure the new tubes continued to protect the quality and taste of the product.
'A Key Milestone'
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.
“Together with our manufacturing partners, we’re making the new design available to any producers interested in adopting the new material, with the ambition to accelerate industry change.”
Unilever is also working to ensure that the new tubes are collected and recycled.
In France, consumers can dispose of the new tubes in the recycling bins at their homes.
The new packaging will contribute to Unilever’s pledge to make 100% of its plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable.