A tube that is recyclable

Learn about our new recyclable toothpaste tube and how you can help us do more to save the planet.

Momentum is building as we work to educate about our new recyclable tube. During this transition phase, your community may not yet accept tubes for recycling. Consumers should check with their local community facilities.

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Tom's of Maine sustainable packaging: recyclable toothpaste tube

It's all in the Tube

Take a quick peek into the story behind
our recyclable toothpaste tube.

Frequently Asked Questions

This innovation in recycling changes things for the better, but it’s only the beginning. And we know that change often brings questions. The answers to the following FAQs can help you, recycling facilities and other brands alike understand how recyclable tubes can be accepted and processed to make the biggest impact.

  • 1. How do I recycle the tube? Do I need to cut open and remove all the leftover toothpaste in the tube, or rinse it out somehow?


    First, check to be sure that your tube has this flag on it:

    Recyclable tube logo

    Our transition to the recyclable tube is happening throughout 2019 and 2020, so not all tubes will immediately be recyclable. It's important that if your tube does not have this flag on it that you don't put it into your recycling bin.

    Your tube has the flag above on it? Great! Getting your tube ready for recycling is easy: simply squeeze out as much of the toothpaste from the tube as you can, replace the cap, and place the tube in your recycling bin. The Tom's of Maine toothpaste tube can be put into your household recycling bin for curbside recycling if your community accepts #2 HDPE plastic. #2 plastic is a commonly recycled plastic and is what many laundry detergent bottles and milk jugs are made from.

    Please don't cut open the toothpaste tube to try and remove excess toothpaste! During the processing of the tube at the recycling facility, the tube is ground up and goes through a "rinsing" process, where all the residual toothpaste is washed off of the plastic. So there's no need for you to do any rinsing at home. 

  • 2. What are you doing to increase the acceptability of your tubes at recycling facilities?

    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.

  • 3. Are the caps recyclable?

    The caps are made of a different plastic than the tube; however, as with bottles, recyclers are used to dealing with caps made from a different resin and encourage replacing the cap to help prevent litter. We will continue to research conversion to an HDPE cap.

  • 4. Why are some of your tubes recyclable while others aren’t?

    The plan is for all of our full size tubes to be recyclable by the end of 2020 and our toothpastes will transition into the recyclable tube by sub-brand. During this transition, some of our toothpastes will be in the recyclable tube while others won't have transitioned yet. Additionally, it will take time for other tube manufacturers to also make the transition. When in doubt, throw it out!

  • 5. Is this also biodegradable?

    Plastic is not designed to be biodegradable. The #2 HDPE plastic used in our tubes is designed to be "circular," so that the material can be re-processed into new products and packaging.

  • 6. Will you still partner with TerraCycle?

    Yes, TerraCycle is still a partner with Tom's of Maine to offer recycling for our smaller toothpaste tubes, toothpaste tubes that are not yet recyclable, toothbrushes, and for packaging we use for our other products that are not recyclable in municipal recycling programs. Participation is limited.

  • 7. What problem is this solving? Isn't plastic still terrible for the environment?

    We are making our recyclable tube with #2 HDPE, which continues to have a strong recycling stream for packaging as well as other uses. It is also a common type of plastic used by other personal care and beauty brands, as well as home care and food brands, which is why we are collaborating with the broader industry, to include retailers.

    At Tom's of Maine, we have a commitment to lessen our product and packaging waste and improve recyclability of our packaging material as part of our Goodness Goals . We continue to work on ways to minimize the environmental impact that both our products and packaging have on our natural environment.

  • 8. I don’t have recycling in my community. What options do I have?

    Recycling practices vary by municipality and not all types of materials are accepted in all towns. If your town doesn't accept #2 plastic, we encourage you to recycle your toothpaste tubes through Terracycle

Keeping Product Packaging Out of Landfills

We continue to work to improve our packaging sustainability across all of our products. Our full size toothpastes are all now in a recyclable tube, just one small step in our commitment to sending less waste to landfill. Additionally, we continue to work on increasing our use of recycled plastic (like our post consumer recycled mouthwash bottles) as well as finding new ways to deliver our natural products without the use of plastic packaging.  While we work towards achieving this goal, you can learn how to recycle deodorant barrels, bottles and more with TerraCycle. 

Ways We Can Help Save the Earth

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Spread the word!

This Earth Month, share the exciting news of Tom’s of Maine’s recyclable toothpaste tubes to all of your family, friends and followers on Facebook!

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Recycling 101

We all want to recycle, but knowing what and how to recycle can be tricky. Click below to download an easy guide on how to sort waste.

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