In 2019, we earned recognition for technical recyclability from the APR (Association of Plastic Recyclers), showing that tubes of the right design are compatible with the HDPE #2 container recycling process. We also tested the sortability of tubes in the lab as well as in the field at MRFs (sorting facilities); data from these efforts shows that our full size tubes are able to make it through to the container line successfully, and there is minimal mis-sorting.
Now that we’ve solved technical recyclability and proved compatibility with HDPE container recycling including sortability, we have been sharing the technology as well as the approach with tube suppliers, other brands, and any interested parties so that the transition to recyclable tubes can happen quickly, and recyclers can be confident that the tubes they receive are compatible. Because of this momentum, all major toothpaste brands have publicly committed to transition their tube portfolios by 2025, and a Squeeze Tube Design Guide is publicly available.
In addition to helping the industry transition their tubes, Tom’s, in partnership with the Colgate-Palmolive Company, is focused on working with the recycling community by sharing our work on compatibility of recyclable tubes within the current recycling system, and partnering with key third parties to address turning "recyclable" into widely accepted and "recycled."
A key collaborative effort we are funding is the Journey to Recyclability for Plastic Squeeze Tubes project, managed by our partner, Stina Inc. Anchored in the importance of avoiding contamination and improving the quality of recycled feedstock, this project is working through the critical elements needed for all tubes to be included in community lists of acceptable items in the recycling stream.
Another example of work we are contributing to is The Pathway to Circularity: Recyclability Framework with The Recycling Partnership, which is creating the Framework to define a clear set of criteria to help companies successfully navigate the recycling system, and take action to address challenges, thereby making circularity tangible. We are active participants, having helped initiate the project, using tubes as a helpful case study, and are planning additional testing as the Framework protocols are agreed-upon by the Circularity Council driving the project.
Even with all of these efforts, however, during this transition phase your community may not yet accept tubes for recycling. Check locally. Consumers should check with their local community programs to ensure that tubes are accepted. We are proud to be the leaders in this space and our goal is to continue developing innovative science that creates products that are ultimately better for our planet.