Updated: Oct 16, 2019
EACH YEAR, 1.5 BILLION PLASTIC TOOTHPASTE TUBES END UP IN LANDFILLS.
A standard size toothpaste tube lasts about 2 months, resulting a usage of around 6 toothpaste tubes annually. This might not seem like a large number, but the quantities quickly add up considering how many people around the world follow dental hygiene.
Toothpaste comes in convenient and easy-to-use plastic tubes, which unfortunately can’t be recycled. Therefore, non-recyclable toothpaste tubes keep pilling up in the landfills or get dumped into the oceans.
Why is toothpaste tube made out of plastic?
For centuries toothpaste has been made in a solid form, until 1866 when a London based doctor Washington Sheffield manufactured a squeezable tin and lead tube. His idea came from artists paint tubes and revolutionized toothpaste industry. During World War II there was shortage of metal due to military usage, which resulted a restriction to manufacture household products made out of metals. Toothpaste tube manufacturers had to switch to aluminum and plastics.
Why can't toothpaste tube be recycled?
Modern toothpaste tube hasn’t changed much from the original design of 1966. However, the materials evolved into complex layered plastics including aluminum, steel, and nylon. Mostly all toothpaste tubes on the market are made out of ABL (Aluminum Barrier Laminate with several layers of PE) and PBL (Plastic Barrier Laminate with several layers of EVOH), the cap is made out of mix of other plastics. The blended plastic materials and leftovers of toothpaste make recycling of toothpaste tubes almost impossible. Dumped into landfills, toothpaste tubes take around 500-700 years to decompose.
Plastic-Free natural TOOTHPASTEs
Glass and aluminum are great alternative packaging solutions to plastic toothpaste tubes. However, there are still only very few dental care brands that package toothpaste in aluminum or glass jars. These brands use natural and organic ingredients to make paste, powder, or tablets toothpaste. Natural ingredients such as coconut, bentonite clay, baking soda, peppermint oil, and charcoal are proven to have great benefits in dental care. Read More > for detailed guide covering natural toothpaste ingredients backed by scientific studies.
Below is a simple break down of zero waste dental care brands by origin, covering their products, flavours, prices, packaging, etc.
Established: 2012 - Nelson, CANADA
Dental Products: toothpaste, tooth-tablets. Also silk floss, toothbrushes
Price: CA$ 10-14 / for about 1-1.5 months
Flavours: 9 Mint, Mint Charcoal, Activated Charcoal, Cinnamon, Spearmint, Citrus Spice, Fennel, Moringa Forest Fresh
Shipping: free to Canada and USA on orders above $50
Claims: cruelty-free, vegan, toxin-free, Fluoride-free. no: SLS, glycerin, toxic chemicals, fillers or artificial colourings
Packaging: glass jars with metal lids
Manufacturing: made in Nelson (BC) Canada, 100% food grade ingredients
Giving back: 5% on all profits go to animal charities and animal shelters
Established: 2015 - California, USA
Dental Products: toothpaste
Price: US$ 10 / for about 1-1.5 months
Flavours: 2 Peppermint, Peppermint & Charcoal
Shipping: free to USA on above $25
Claims: cruelty-free, vegan, toxin-free, Fluoride-free. no: SLS, sodium, sulfate
artificial flavours, preservatives, sweeteners
Packaging: recyclable metal tube, recyclable roller key, FSC cardboard box
Manufacturing: made in USA, premium local natural ingredients
Established: 2016 - Los Angeles, USA
Dental Products: tooth-tablets
Flavours: 2 Mint, Activated Charcoal
Price: US$12 (62pc) lasts 2 months, subscription US$30 (248pc) lasts 4 months
Shipping: free USA, Can $15, Au $22
Claims: cruelty-free, vegan, Fluoride-free. no: sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, artificial dyes
Packaging: glass jars, metal caps, compostable pouch refills
Manufacturing: made in the USA, local natural ingredients
Established: 2009 - Berlin, Germany
Dental Products: tooth tablets. Also bamboo toothbrushes
Flavours: 1 Mint with/without fluoride
Price: €6 (125pc) / lasts 2 months
Shipping: free to Germany on above €15, or €5, EU €15
Claims: cruelty-free, vegan, BDIH Certified controlled natural cosmetics. no: builders, bleach, preservatives, glutamate, gluten
Packaging: fully compostable bags
Manufacturing: made in Germany, 100% natural ingredients
Giving back: supporting Fridays for Future, clean-ups, teaching about plastic waste in schools. Sending 1000 bamboo brushes to children German charities
Established: 2016 - Berlin, Germany
Dental Products: toothpaste, tooth powder, mouth wash
Flavours: 4 White, Black, Sensitive, Cinnamon
Price: € 9 (100ml) / lasts 2 months
Claims: cruelty-free, vegan, Fluoride-free, ICADA Certified. no: SLS, EDTAN, parabens, phthalates, triclosan, formaldehyde, peroxide, gluten
Packaging: glass jar, metal lid
Manufacturing: made in Germany, natural quality ingredients
Giving back: supporting One Earth – One Ocean e.V. ocean clean-up organization.
Established: 2010 - FRANCE
Dental Products: solid toothpaste. Also bamboo toothbrushes
Flavours: 3 Cinnamon, Peppermint, Sage & amp; Lemon
Price: € 8.5 (17g) / lasts 3-4 months
Shipping: free to France. EU €8, worldwide €10
Claims: cruelty-free, vegan, Peta Certified
Packaging: compostable stick
Manufacturing: made in France, natural quality ingredients
Giving back: 2% of sales donated to reforestation, waste collection initiatives
Established: 2015 - United Kingdom
Dental Products: toothpaste, toothpowder, tooth-tablets, tooth-soap. Also mouthwash (tablets), oil pulling mouthwash, biodegradable silk floss, beech toothbrushes and sonic toothbrush
Flavours: 7, kids-friendly
Price: £7 (60ml) £9 (120pc) lasts 1-2 months
Shipping: UK £2.5, outside UK €12
Claims: cruelty-free, vegan, Fluoride free. no: SLS, Triclosan, gluten, glycerin, synthetic ingredients
Packaging: recycled paper tubes, glass bottles and jars, metal lids
Manufacturing: make in UK. Hand-crafted in small batches, locally sourced ingredients
Giving back: supporting The Ocean Cleanup, personal recycling system – mail back. Donations to Sail To The COP, Cradle (early pregnancy loss bereavement support charity), sending independent dental professionals to volunteer in Kenya.
*Please note that supporting local dental care brands reduces carbon footprint and CO2 emissions of shipping. Choose to shop locally and support zero waste toothpaste brands based in your country or continent.