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Are Toothpaste Tubes Recyclable? Tips, Facts & FAQ


Every household buys toothpaste, right? Of course, they do! Oral health is an important part of our everyday lives. Your family’s favorite brand of toothpaste is often on your shopping list when you head out to the grocery or department store. Considering how much toothpaste we buy, how often, and for how many people, just imagine how many empty toothpaste tubes we have thrown away over the years. It is a lot. Have you ever wondered, are toothpaste tubes recyclable?

In the past, the answer to that question would have been no. Most toothpaste tubes were made with plastics and aluminum that local recycling centers wouldn’t want you bringing since they can’t separate the materials. Nowadays, however, things are changing and specialized recycling centers will accept toothpaste tubes. A few toothpaste companies are even changing the materials they use to more eco-friendly designs. Let’s learn more about toothpaste tube recycling and how to properly dispose of them.

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Toothpaste Tubes and Recycling

As we’ve already mentioned, most toothpaste tubes are made of a plastic and aluminum mixture. While plastics that aren’t disposed of properly take years to break down, they can also find their way into our local waterways and ecosystems. This can be especially hazardous to our wildlife. When thrown away in our household garbage, they find their way to the local landfill where they sit for years breaking down. This takes up tons of space in landfills where other items that can’t be recycled could remain.

As times change, so does recycling. There are now specialized recycling centers where toothpaste tubes can be sent or dropped off to keep them out of landfills. These centers go through special processes to ensure the toothpaste tube is properly prepared so it can be recycled with other plastics. Here are the steps these recycling centers follow to recycle your toothpaste tubes.

  • First, centers sort tubes from materials that cannot be recycled.
  • Next, the tubes are shredded, breaking up the materials.
  • Then, those materials are washed to remove any unwanted or leftover residue.
  • Finally, once the plastic is broken down it is converted into pellets for further use in other products.
container tube squeezed and rolled
Photo Credit By: puha dorin, Shutterstock

What You Can Do at Home

If you’re wanting to start recycling all those toothpaste tubes you’ll inevitably use around the house, there are a few things you can do to make life easier for yourself and those at the recycling centers. Of course, the first step is to find a local center that is willing to accept toothpaste tubes. Once that’s handled, you can follow these suggestions to help things move smoother at the recycling center.

  • Take off the cap.
  • Use up as much toothpaste as you can.
  • Safely cut the neck of the tube and down the side.
  • Once the tube is open, use warm water and soap to wash away any leftover toothpaste and residue.

You can also contact Colgate to make use of their partnership with a recycling program called TerraCycle. Once you’ve followed the above steps, they will send you shipping labels so you can mail in toothpaste tubes, caps, cartons, toothbrushes, packaging, and other things associated with your dental care that can be recycled.

toothpaste tube and a toothbrush with toothpaste
Image Credit: Bru-nO, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

While your first instinct may be to toss your finished toothpaste tube in the trash, you now have other options. With more and more recycling centers allowing toothpaste tubes to be included with your recycling, you can easily avoid adding to the pounds of plastics rotting away in our landfills. If your center doesn’t accept toothpaste tubes, contacting Colgate to send your waste to TerraCycle is your best option. Either method you choose will help you lower your carbon footprint and do your part to make the world a cleaner place.

Featured Image Credit: Opal, Pixabay

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