Colgate is tackling clean formulation and sustainability in packaging with its new Smile for Good toothpaste brand. The product formulation, which uses 99.7 percent natural ingredients, is certified by The Vegan Society, certified organic through COSMOS Ecocert, and packaged in recyclable HDPE tubes and cartons. This follows the brand’s recent launch of a biodegradable toothbrush made from sustainably grown bamboo and packaged in recyclable cardboard, in a bid to reduce plastic waste.
The toothpaste category has been slow to clean up its act, but Colgate-Palmolive is not going to be caught flatfooted letting indie oral care disrupters take their market share. The company is the global leader in the oral care hygiene market, with a market share of 42.1% in the global toothpaste market and 32.3% in the manual toothbrush market.
The toothpaste launched with two variants: Smile for Good Protection and Smile for Good Whitening. Colgate uses the packaging as a billboard for the cleaned-up formulation, listing each ingredient with its purpose, aiding consumer education on the role of ingredients.
The new product is available in the European market with Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, and Boots, as well as online with Amazon. The distribution will expand to Tesco and Morrisons next month. Compared to traditional options it’s pricey at $6.50, but as the market for clean/sustainable options expands, prices will drop.
Toothpaste alone is said to be responsible for an estimated 20 billion tubes annually, according to Colgate. Toothpaste tubes are traditionally impossible to recycle using conventional methods because of several layers of plastics, polymers, and resins that are often sandwiched around a thin layer of aluminum.
After five years in development, Colgate announced the first-of-its-kind recyclable toothpaste tube last summer. The design is the first oral care or personal care tube to earn recognition by the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) for recyclability and is an essential step in the development process ensuring that toothpaste tubes are part of the recycling stream.
“The Association of Plastic Recyclers appreciated the opportunity to partner with Colgate on this important project,” Steve Alexander, President of the APR, said in a statement. “Tubes are one of the most widely used forms of plastic packaging that still cannot be recycled. There is a lot of work ahead, but we believe Colgate is off to a great start.”
To make a recyclable tube, Colgate chose high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the widely recycled “No. 2” plastic popular for bottle making. But because HDPE is rigid, it isn’t well suited for ultra-thin laminate sheets and soft, squeezable tubes. Engineers figured out how to mix different grades and thickness levels of the laminate in the tube to maintain the squeezable effect while also meeting recycling standards.
Colgate-Palmolive’s chief executive, Noel Wallace, said to The Guardian: “Colgate wants to make tubes a part of the circular economy by keeping this plastic productive and eliminating waste. If we can standardize recyclable tubes among all companies, we all win. We can align on these common standards for tubes and still compete with what’s inside them.”
Colgate will also share its tube’s technology with packaging manufactures so the entire industry can meet third-party recycling requirements.
Photo: via Colgate-Palmolive