The trend is clearly moving towards mono-material – as Colgate’s toothpaste tube reveals

Source: Colgate-Palmolive Services CEW GmbH

The trend is clearly moving towards mono-material

– as Colgate’s toothpaste tube reveals

Thomas Reiner | 04.03.2020

Colgate-Palmolive launches the first toothpaste tube that is 100 percent recyclable. Until now, recycling conventional toothpaste tubes has been difficult, as they typically consist of several layers of different plastics and a thin layer of aluminium inside, which are compressed into a single foil. These laminates or composite materials cannot be separated and opened up for recycling using conventional methods.

Colgate-Palmolive engineers are replacing the conventional laminate solution with a mono-material solution of high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Previously, HDPE was considered too stiff to produce a flexible tube. As a single-material packaging, the tube is easy to detect and can be recycled separately. This is precisely the charm of mono-material, which is therefore very much in vogue.

The formula for the selected toothpaste played right into the hands of the engineers. The “Smile-for-Good” products consist of only a few ingredients, 99.7 percent of which are of natural origin. As a result, the chemical requirements for product protection that the packaging must provide are comparatively low.

Colgate has announced that all tubes will be recyclable by 2025. Are mono-material solutions being considered across the board? Laminates have so far been indispensable in protecting products with more demanding chemical properties. High hurdles would have to be overcome in order to replace the composite material with mono-material here as well.

It is quite possible that some hurdles will turn out to be walls that cannot be jumped over technologically. It would not be surprising if the consistent use of mono-material could in many cases only be bought by changing the product formula.

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