Recycling Mystery: Toothbrushes & Toothpaste Tubes

Recycling Mystery: Toothbrushes & Toothpaste Tubes

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Oral care merchandise, resembling toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes, could seem unattainable to recycle. After all, how would a recycler take away all of that further toothpaste from the tube or disassemble a toothbrush for recycling? Let’s take a better have a look at this recycling thriller to get the low-down on preserving our pearly whites wholesome with out contributing to landfill waste.

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Can I Recycle Toothbrush and Toothpaste Tubes?

Answer: Yes. But most likely not every kind by your native recycling program. Read on to study your choices.

How Are Oral Care Products Recycled?

Oral care merchandise and packaging differ tremendously by materials and may embody various kinds of plastics, aluminum, metal, and nylon. In most instances, every of those parts should be processed individually, making it a tough job for recyclers.


“Toothbrushes are some of the sophisticated gadgets that we accumulate for recycling throughout the board, just because they’re made up of three totally different parts,” mentioned Stacey Krauss, U.S. public relations supervisor for TerraCycle, which accepts toothbrushes and oral care product packaging by its mail-back Oral Care Recycling Program.

“There are the nylon bristles, there’s a metallic staple that holds the bristles in place, after which there’s the plastic deal with. So, all three of these supplies should be separated earlier than they are often processed,” she defined.

After toothbrush parts are separated, metals are processed by customary recycling. The nylon and plastic parts are shredded, cleaned, and pelletized to be used in manufacturing gadgets starting from picnic tables and benches to playground gear and bike racks, amongst different issues, Krauss mentioned.

Toothpaste Tubes

The sticky residue inevitably left inside toothpaste tubes makes these picks appear to be one other head-scratcher, however they’re truly a lot simpler to recycle than you’d assume, TerraCycle’s lead scientist, Ernie Simpson, advised Earth911.

“For bottles, toothpaste tubes, or something like that, one of many tips for getting residuals out of those containers is to shred the fabric,” Simpson mentioned. “Once the supplies are shredded, the floor space that has the residuals is uncovered.”

After toothpaste tubes are shredded, they cross by a washing cycle the place the items are cleaned with water or a easy biocide, an answer that dissolves bio-based supplies. After cleansing, shredded tubes are dried and enter a pelletizing step, the place recycled supplies are transformed into pellets to be used in new merchandise.

Similar shredding and pelletizing processes are used for salvaging mouthwash containers and dental floss packaging for recycling, Simpson mentioned.

Oral Care Products Mail-in Recycling Programs

If you utilize Preserve model toothbrushes, Gimme 5 hosts a Preserve Toothbrush Takeback program: For each six Preserve toothbrushes that you simply ship for recycling, they’ll offer you a $6 coupon for Preserve’s on-line retailer.

Through TerraCycle’s free Oral Care Recycling Program, shoppers can fill a field with any model of toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and caps, toothpaste cartons, toothbrush outer packaging, and floss containers and mail it again to TerraCycle for recycling. For every cargo over 5 kilos, you’ll earn TerraCycle points that may be redeemed for money donations to the varsity or nonprofit group of your alternative.

Can I Recycle Oral Care Packaging Locally?

Recycling guidelines differ by area, so test along with your native recycling supplier you probably have any doubts. If their recycling steerage doesn’t record toothbrushes, floss containers, toothpaste tubes, or one other merchandise you hope to recycle, ask them if they’ll course of it. Putting supplies in your curbside bin that your program doesn’t settle for can find yourself contaminating your other recyclables.

Toothpaste Tubes

Toothpaste tubes are sometimes made with a mixture of various plastics and a skinny layer of aluminum. This mixture of supplies makes them onerous to recycle and it’s unlikely they’re accepted by your curbside recycling pickup. However, that will change. In 2019, Colgate started transitioning to toothpaste tubes product of recyclable #2 plastic (HDPE), and other brands usually are not far behind.

Although the transition to recyclable tubes will not be full, you probably have this sort of toothpaste tube, you may be able to recycle it. If the tube has the #2 (HDPE) recycling code on it, test along with your native recycler to verify they’re ready to course of #2 plastic toothpaste tubes earlier than placing them in your curbside bin. You could also be instructed to drop off the fabric at a group heart.

Mouthwash Bottles

You might be able to recycle different types of oral care packaging resembling mouthwash bottles by your native curbside recycling program. After emptying and rinsing your containers, test on the underside for the plastic recycling code. Once you realize what sort of materials you’re coping with, test along with your native recycler or use Earth911 Recycling Search to seek for recycling choices close to you.

Precycle Your Oral Care Products

While recycling choices exist for a lot of kinds of oral care product packaging, you’ll make disposal a lot simpler for your self by selecting easy-to-recycle merchandise and packaging forward of time (aka precycling).

For toothbrushes, take into account switching to a mannequin with a replaceable head to reduce waste. Rather than tossing a whole toothbrush each three months, merely change the top and proceed utilizing the deal with for months to return. Most replaceable head fashions, like these from Eco-Dent and Radius (which makes use of recycled supplies within the deal with), price about the identical as standard toothbrushes. Or, take into account bamboo toothbrushes as a substitute for plastic.

To take the guesswork out of toothbrush disposal, it’s also possible to join a toothbrush subscription with Preserve, an upcycling firm that makes toothbrushes and different merchandise from recycled #5 plastics. Through the subscription, you choose how incessantly you need to obtain your new toothbrush (each one to 3 months). Your Preserve toothbrushes are recyclable by Preserve’s mail-in recycling program. This is a small style of the circular economy, through which all waste is recycled.

When selecting your toothpaste, take into account a model that provides a take-back program for tubes and packaging, resembling Tom’s of Maine. If you need to skip the toothpaste tubes, take into account a tooth powder, resembling Eco-Dent’s DailyCare, or a toothpaste pill, resembling WELdental Chewtab. Or, do some analysis earlier than you store to discover a firm that notes packaging supplies on its web site to make discovering a recycling resolution simpler.

Make Your Own Toothpaste

If you’re feeling bold, it’s also possible to make your personal toothpaste at house from pure components, eliminating packaging waste completely. Check out these do-it-yourself toothpaste recipes from Instructables, DIY Natural, and Crunchy Betty to get you began. Since totally different mouths have totally different wants, speak to your dentist earlier than making the change to a do-it-yourself toothpaste to verify the recipe you selected is best for you.

Help others recycle, Pin the picture beneath:

Trying to recycle toothbrushes or toothpaste tubes? Check out this super helpful guide from Earth911.

Feature picture: Axel Naud, Flickr

Editor’s be aware: Originally printed on May 15, 2016, this text was up to date in June 2021.

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