Unilever will convert its entire global toothpaste portfolio to recyclable tubes by 2025 and is making the packaging innovation available to other companies.
While most toothpaste tubes are constructed with a plastic and aluminum combination, the new ones will use a material made mostly of high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The material is a more widely available recyclable plastic and retains the flexibility traditionally provided by hard-to-recycle aluminum.
The tubes, which have been in development for four years, will also be Unilever’s thinnest plastic toothpaste tubes, further reducing the amount of plastic rqu needed for each one.
The No. 6 consumer goods company, which includes such oral care brands as Signal, Pepsodent and Closeup in its portfolio, will begin offering the new tubes later this year in France and India, two of its biggest oral care markets.
The Signal brand will launch the tubes in France, with the packaging rolled out across its biggest range, Integral 8, which represents 35% of Unilever’s toothpaste portfolio in the country.
Babu Cherian, Unilever R&D oral care packaging director, said the tubes mark a key milestone for the company and have the potential to transform the 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,” he noted.
The move aligns with other packaging collaboration trends, including a partnership Unilever has formed with Diageo and PepsiCo for paper-based bottles.
Unilever last year launched its first 100% recycled plastic toothbrush: The Signal Ecolo Clean toothbrush is made from 100% food-grade post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, and it uses 40% less plastic than the company’s standard brushes.
GSK Consumer Healthcare (GSKCH) similarly announced this month it’s teaming with two global packaging suppliers — Albea and EPL Global — to launch recyclable toothpaste tubes across its oral health brands, including Sensodyne, Parodontax and Aquafresh.