Global consumer brands company Unilever announced today plans to convert its entire toothpaste portfolio to recyclable tubes by 2025. The company’s oral care brands include Signal, Pepsodent and Closeup. According to Unilever, the new initiative will contribute to its commitment to make 100% of its plastic packaging designed to be reusable, recyclable or compostable, and to help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells.

According to Unilever, the new goal follows a four-year development process for the new tubes, which will replace the aluminum in the tubes replaced with a material made mostly of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which is one of the most widely recyclable plastics globally. The amount of plastic required per tube will also be reduced, as the new material, at 200 microns, will be the thinnest plastic material available on the toothpaste market. Unilever also intends to introduce more post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic into the recyclable tubes of brands including signal by 2022.

Samir Singh, Executive Vice President, Global Skin Cleansing and Oral Care said:

“Plastic pollution is undoubtably one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time. We can see its impact on our planet every day, including the billions of toothpaste tubes dumped into landfills every year. That’s why I’m proud of this latest packaging innovation which will see our entire toothpaste portfolio shift to recyclable tubes by 2025. It’s been a long and challenging journey to get to this point, but we hope this transformation will inspire the wider industry to also make the change.”

In developing the new tubes, Unilever partnered with multiple global packaging manufacturers including EPL, Amcor, Huhtamaki and Dai Nippon Indonesia (DNPI). The company said that the new design will be made available to other producers looking to introduce more sustainable packaging. Unilever is also working with global recycling organisations to help ensure that the new tubes are collected and recycled.

Babu Cherian, R&D Oral Care Packaging Director at Unilever said:

“Recyclable tubes mark a key milestone in our packaging journey and, more significantly, they have the potential to transform the whole oral care industry. Together with our manufacturing partners, we’re making the new design available to any producers interested in adopting the new material, with the ambition to accelerate industry change.”

Today’s announcement follow the introduction last week by Sensodyne and Aquafresh owner GSK Consumer Healthcare of its own fully recyclable toothpaste tubes, with the company expecting to produce over 1 billion of the tubes per year by 2025.