Let's get straight to it - recycling toothpaste tubes is hard.
Although they are mainly made from plastic, there are a number of other materials mixed in as well. Their complex construction, not to mention the sticky remnants of toothpaste that is inevitably left behind inside the tube, makes them really difficult to recycle.
It's unusual for local councils to accept squeezable toothpaste tubes as part of their recycling collection programmes, so if yours does, count yourself lucky!
This also goes for anything else in a squeezable bottle - hand cream, sun cream, moistursing lotions etc.
Notice we mentioned squeezable. Pump action toothpaste tubes are made from a different type of plastic which is easier to recycle, so there's a better chance that you local council will accept them.
You can double check what your council will/won't collect by plugging your postcode into this handy tool.
If your local council can't help, TerraCycle is the next best option.
What is TerraCycle? They are a company that offer free recycling services and specialise in upcycling and recycling the particularly difficult stuff like crisp packets, cigarette butts and of course toothpaste tubes!
TerraCycle have teamed up with Colgate to offer the "Oral Care Recycling Programme" where they will recycle all sorts of products related to oral care such as, toothpaste tubes, floss and toothbrushes. Have a look below:
Even better, it's not just for recycling Colgate products, they will accept any brand.
How does TerraCycle collect the waste? There are drop-off points spread throughout the country which are linked to non-profit organisations or schools.
The best part is that they get rewarded for the waste that you give them.
For each kilo of waste collected, TerraCycle rewards the collectors with 100 TerraCycle points, with 1 point being worth 1 penny.
Or put another way, if a drop-off point collects 10 kilograms of waste they get 10 quid as a reward.
So when you are thinking about which drop-off point to send your toothpaste tubes to you might want to give some thought about supporting a particular cause.
You can find all the drop-off point using this Google map.
Before you drop off your toothpaste tubes we would advise cutting them open, cleaning them out thoroughly and letting them dry to save the collectors a job. 👍
When TerraCycle receives the waste it is separated by polymer type, broken down and formed into plastic pellets ready to make new recycled products.
So that's how TerraCycle works. It is great and all but... phew, it's an awful lot of tiring work.
If only there was another way...
The bottom line is recycling toothpaste tubes is really hard, so why not ditch them altogether?
Here at Reco we have developed toothtabs, a zero waste and solid form of toothpaste. Think of them as toothpaste with all of the water squeezed out.
They end up looking like small mints and it means we can package them without ANY plastic. We simply pop them in small glassine (also know as greaseproof paper) bags.
Give them a try for 31 days for only £3 (delivery is free), by heading to our toothtab trial page.
Founder of Reco, a marketplace and community dedicated to find shift from a single-use mindset to a multi-use one. #SingleUseSucks