Toothpaste Tubes – An Environmental Hazard?

Toothpaste Tubes – An Environmental Hazard?

Calls have been made to find alternatives to plastic toothpaste tubes as it’s been estimated that 300 million toothpaste tubes a year go to landfill.

As FORTUNE BUSINESS INSIGHTS estimates the global toothpaste market in 2019 to be nearly £13 billion, one UK waste management company believes it’s time for toothpaste manufacturers to find alternatives to plastic. is alarmed at the volume of plastic toothpaste tubes that are being discarded and aren’t able be recycled.  The company is calling for plastic-free alternatives.

 “Toothpaste is an essential hygiene item that people will always buy” says Mark Hall, company spokesman.”  

He asked “however the problem is the packaging; does it really need to come in a plastic tube?”

It’s estimated that if spread from end to end, the 300 million plastic tubes of toothpaste disposed of annually in the UK alone, would stretch 75,000 kilometres. This is the equivalent of stretching  almost twice around the world. 

The company says  the problem is that they are usually made of different types of plastics, and many brands contain a metal layer inside the tube which isn’t easy to separate.

“A lot of toothpaste tubes have that layer of aluminium in to keep them fresh, but this makes it a recycling nightmare,” says spokesman Mark Hall. “So unfortunately most tubes will end up at a landfill.”

This worries, as on average, it takes 500 years for a toothpaste tube to fully biodegrade in landfill, meaning that every tube you have used in your lifetime could still be out there in a big hole in the ground.

Fortunately, pump-action toothpaste tubes can be easier to recycle, says Hall, but you will still need to check with your local council to see if they can be collected.

Not only are plastic toothpaste tubes bad for the environment, there’s a high chance you might not be getting your money’s worth with up to 10% of the product remaining when you think it’s empty.

“Manufacturers do this on purpose,” says spokesman Mark Hall, “it’s all designed to make you buy a replacement tube sooner.”

“Plastic toothpaste tubes aren’t beneficial for the earth or your value for money.”

The company says that Colgate have launched plastic-free initiatives, including a new vegan friendly toothpaste that comes in recyclable packaging which is made from the same material as milk bottles.

Colgate have also become part of the Terracycle scheme, where consumers can take empty toothpaste tubes and plastic brushes to collection points for specialised recycling.

“As Colgate brush up the competition, one thing’s for sure,” says Hall, “We all need to step up and do our bit to reduce toothpaste tubes going to landfill.”

“Let’s stop filling the earth’s cavities with dental plastic waste.”



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