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Unilever to convert to recyclable toothpaste tubes worldwide

Global consumer company Unilever is to convert its entire toothpaste portfolio to using recyclable tubes by 2025. The company’s oral-care brands include Signal, Pepsodent and Closeup.

After four years of development, the recyclable toothpaste tubes will be available this year in two of Unilever’s largest oral care markets – France and India. 

According to Unilever, the new initiative will contribute to its commitment to make 100 per cent of its plastic packaging designed to be reusable, recyclable or compostable, and to help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells.

First launching in France with Signal, Unilever will introduce the new across its widest range, Integral 8, representing 35 per cent of Unilever’s toothpaste portfolio in the country.

Traditionally, most toothpaste tubes use a mixture of aluminium and plastic, which gives the packaging flexibility but makes it difficult to recycle.

The new tubes will use high-density polyethylene (HDPE) material, the thinnest plastic material on the market at 220-microns, reducing the amount of plastic needed for each tube. While products made from HDPE are not biodegradable, they are classified as recyclable and can be disposed of in plastic recycling bins. 

The new tubes have been approved by RecyClass, which sets the recyclability standard for Europe and laboratories in Asia and North America.

Samir Singh, executive vice president of Global Skin Cleansing and Oral Care, said that with billions of toothpaste tubes dumped into landfills each year, he hopes this conversion to recyclable tubes will inspire other industries to make the change.

“Plastic pollution is undoubtedly one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time,” said Singh 

“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 also to make the change.”

According to Unilever, the technology will be available for other companies to adopt to encourage broader industry change. This decision is similar to one made by Colgate after launching its version of recyclable toothpaste tubes earlier this month.

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