Unilever to launch recyclable toothpaste tubes in India

Unilever’s oral care brands - Signal, Pepsodent and Closeup - have announced plans to convert its entire global toothpaste portfolio to recyclable tubes by 2025. After four years of development, the recyclable tubes will be available later this year in two of the company’s biggest oral care markets - India and France.

22 May 2021 | By WhatPackaging? Team

The new tubes will use a high-density polyethylene material instead of aluminium

The tubes will be first launched in France for the Signal Integral 8 brand, which represents over a third (35%) of Unilever’s toothpaste portfolio in the country.

Samir Singh, executive vice president, Global Skin Cleansing and Oral Care, Unilever, said, “Plastic pollution is undoubtedly 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.”

According to Unilever, the new tubes will use a high-density polyethylene material instead of aluminium to make the tube recyclable. “It will also be the thinnest plastic material available on the toothpaste market at 220-microns, which will reduce the amount of plastic needed for each tube. To encourage wider industry change, the innovation will be made available for other companies to adopt,” said a company statement.

The company claims that the tube designs have been approved by RecyClass, which sets the recyclability standard for Europe as well as laboratories in Asia and North America.

The FMCG major’s oral care brands partnered with packaging manufacturers such EPL (formerly Essel Propack), Amcor, Huhtamaki and Dai Nippon Indonesia (DNPI) to develop the recyclable tubes. “In addition, formulation and flavour experts at Unilever were essential throughout the testing process to ensure the new tubes continued to protect the quality and taste of the product.”

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.”

Alan Conner, vice president - Europe, EPL, said, “When it comes to making oral care sustainable, it has been challenging to develop a recyclable product without adding extra plastic to the tube. EPL is a global market-leading supplier of toothpaste tubes and is delighted to support this breakthrough innovation representing a major turning point for the oral care industry and is a key first step in reducing plastic waste, enabling consumers to minimise their impact on the planet. Given the size and scale of Unilever, their commitment to convert 100% of its global toothpaste portfolio by 2025 will unquestionably lead others to take action as well.”

Besides the manufacturing of the tubes, Unilever is also working with recycling organisations to ensure that the packages are collected and recycled. This will be the case in France, where consumers can put the new tubes in their home recycling bin, which will be collected and turned into new products.

The Signal brand is also set to introduce post-consumer recycled plastic into its tube packaging in France and other European markets by 2022.