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Colgate’s Innovative Tube: Transforming the Landscape

Colgate’s Innovative Tube: Transforming the Landscape

March 21, 2024

Starting in 2013, Colgate-Palmolive set out to invent a plastic laminate toothpaste tube that could be recycled. At the time, most toothpaste tubes were made from sheets of different plastics often sandwiched around a thin layer of aluminum. They couldn't be recycled through conventional methods.

Colgate wanted to change that. It created a first-of-its-kind tube that could be recycled along with laundry detergent bottles and other plastic bottles. And to spark a global transition to recyclable tubes, it decided to share its recyclable tube know-how with other companies, including competitors.

Today, 90% of toothpaste tubes in the US have designs compatible with the color HDPE bottle stream, according to Stina Inc., which announced this milestone on March 21, 2024. Stina is leading a Tube Recycling Project among stakeholders to help speed the tube transformation.

Colgate-Palmolive people are proud of the leadership role the company has played in reaching this milestone. Here are some key steps in the company’s journey.

 

Colgate’s Innovative Tube: Transforming the Landscape

2013 CP takes on a steep challenge: create a recyclable toothpaste tube from rigid, high density polyethylene (HDPE) that can be recycled alongside plastic bottles.

Colgate’s Innovative Tube: Transforming the Landscape

2014 CP kicks off five phases of design and testing, experimenting with different HDPE grades and 7 to 20 laminate-layer combinations.

 

Colgate’s Innovative Tube: Transforming the Landscape

2016 CP packaging engineers create a soft, squeezable tube from HDPE!

Colgate’s Innovative Tube: Transforming the Landscape

2017 CP presents its recyclable tube development work to the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR). After extensive evaluation, in April 2019 APR recognized the tube for meeting its technical requirements for compatibility with the HDPE bottle recycling stream - the first tube to earn such recognition.

Colgate’s Innovative Tube: Transforming the Landscape

2018 CP holds the first of approximately 80 technology-sharing sessions to encourage other tube makers and competitors to shift to  recyclable tubes.

Colgate’s Innovative Tube: Transforming the Landscape

2019  CP delivers! First tubes shipped to stores in the U.S. under CP’s Tom’s of Maine brand. The start of the Colgate brand transition follows in 2020.

Colgate’s Innovative Tube: Transforming the Landscape

2021 CP awarded U.S. Patent No. 10,889,093 for its “Dimensionally Stable Recyclable Plastic Package.”

Colgate’s Innovative Tube: Transforming the Landscape

Today More than 90% of CP’s toothpaste tubes in the U.S have switched, and it is our goal to complete the global transition by 2025. During this transition phase your community may not yet accept tubes for recycling.  Consumers should check with their local community programs.

To learn more about Colgate-Palmolive's sustainability efforts, including its goal to make its packaging reusable, refillable or recyclable, check out our Sustainability & Social Impact report.

 

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