Toothpaste tubes are made from plastic. Surely, this means that you should be able to recycle them? Well. No. It doesn’t. Let’s take a look at why.
Toothpaste tubes are made of metals and plastics in one combined package, so they cannot be easily recycled. Some recycling centers will have collection boxes for old toothpaste tubes, which will then get shipped to the Colgate company for recycling, but these aren’t common.
Can You Recycle an Old Tube of Toothpaste?
While toothpaste tubes may look like they are just made from plastic, they aren’t. Toothpaste tubes are made from a combination of plastic and some metals. This is to help keep the toothpaste inside nice and fresh.
In normal situations, each of the materials that make up a toothpaste tube would be recyclable. You can recycle metals and plastics, after all.
The problem is that all these materials have been combined in a toothpaste tube. Because of this, they cannot be recycled.
Recycling centers do not have the equipment or resources to break down the materials in a toothpaste tube into separate components. Even if they did, it would be a very resource-intensive job that would never be good for the environment.
That said, some companies (Colgate in particular) have started introducing recyclable toothpaste tubes. These can be put in your standard recycling. Look at the tube’s label to determine whether the toothpaste tube can be recycled. If it has the recycling logo, you can put the tube in with your standard plastic recycling.
Remember, if you do have a tube that can be recycled, you will want to wash it out beforehand. We can’t imagine that people would really want to be handling bottles loaded with old, crusty toothpaste. Can you?
Are There Recycling Options?
Even if you do not have a bottle that says it can be for recycling, you may have one option.
In many parts of the United States, Colgate has launched a scheme. Some recycling centers will have a collection box for old toothpaste bottles. Not just Colgate ones, either. The idea is that you take your old toothpaste tubes and put them in the box.
The recycling center will ship the box off to Colgate when the box is full. This company will then put the bottles to good use.
By all accounts, Colgate does have the equipment required to break up the toothpaste bottles a little bit. We suppose that this makes sense. After all, their program only focuses on toothpaste tubes.
This means that they can work on the processes that they use. The toothpaste tubes will be broken into (mostly) plastic and then used to create larger plastic items.
If you do not have a recyclable tube and there doesn’t seem to be any recycling center in the nearby area that accepts toothpaste tubes, then you can’t do much. The best you can do is unscrew the cap from the toothpaste tube.
This will be able to go in as plastic recycling. There is no sense in putting the whole toothpaste tube into the recycling. It will just end up being removed and placed in a landfill anyway.
What Should You Do With Your Old Toothpaste Tubes?
If you can recycle your old toothpaste tubes, then go with that. It is always the preferable option. This will help to keep the toothpaste tube out of a landfill.
The last place you want toothpaste tubes to go is a landfill. This is because they have been made from a combination of plastic and various metals. Over the years, they will start to break down.
This can leach all sorts of chemicals and compounds into the surrounding area. This can get into the water supply and even make the land of the landfill infertile, i.e., nothing can ever grow on it again.
Obviously, one small toothpaste bottle will probably not make that much of a difference when added to a landfill. However, it would be best to remember that people get through many toothpaste bottles each year. A toothpaste tube may last a week to two weeks per person. You have millions of people in the United States. If millions of people threw millions of toothpaste tubes into a landfill each week, this would start to add up.
Even if your toothpaste bottle does not say that it is recyclable, you may want to look out for some locations that are part of the Colgate recycling program. These may not necessarily be recycling centers, although that seems to be their most common location.
One of the wonderful things about that scheme is that Colgate pays the collector based on how many toothpaste tubes they collect. As a result, you may find that there are several charities and schools out there that may collect old toothpaste tubes. All the information can be found on the Colgate website, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find somewhere to take your old toothpaste tubes.
There will still be some situations where recycling your old toothpaste tube will be out of the question. You may have ended up with a bottle that is not recyclable, and you may be in an area that the Colgate scheme doesn’t cover.
As a result, you will have little choice but to put that old toothpaste tube into your standard trash. It is sad, but it is the only way that you will be able to get rid of it. The next time you go shopping for a tube of toothpaste, make sure that whatever you pick up is recyclable. This way, you can feel like you are doing your part for the environment.
In most cases, toothpaste tubes are not recyclable. However, certain companies have made huge strides in either turning their tubes of toothpaste into products that can be recycled or at least provide options for those that want to get rid of their old tubes. Over the years, expect to see more of these schemes introduced.