Late November 2018 Colgate® announced that through its collaboration with Terracycle® we would be able to recycle Oral hygiene products and that they would be able to raise money for schools and other projects by doing so.

Philip Durocher, General Manager Colgate® UK commented:

“With the global plastics issue high on the agenda for all, the Colgate® Oral Care Recycling Programme promotes sustainability We really encourage people to take advantage of the programme and recycle their oral care products and packaging via the programme and tell their friends and family about this new recycling initiative.”

Colgate Launches UK Recycling Solution for Oral Care Products and Packaging

This is good news, isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong this in itself is brilliant news we needed a method to recycle this waste.

However, does this make Colgate® a sustainable company as this announcement seems to suggest? Sustainability is the word Colgate® used but they will not be using the recycling of our oral products to remake toothbrushes, packaging or any other oral hygiene product. As far as I know, Colgate® is still using none sustainable resources to continue to make toothbrushes, toothpaste along wuth the packaging it comes in.

All of these items add to the global plastic problem. This as far as I can see is a case of greenwashing. Colgate is committing the Sin of Lesser of Two Evils – essentially it’s smoke and mirrors. I may be wrong I am actually quite new to this form of analysing advertising and marketing. But something here does not sit right. If you don’t know what I mean please read. What is Greenwashing?

What is greenwashing

What would have been a transparent Environmental statement?

The honest transparent line which we should be demanding from companies should go something like this. (please understand these are my words and opinions below and are nothing to do with any publication Colgate® have made)

“C____ and all our oral care peers are currently producing a lot of plastic that cannot be recycled in any of the normal ways. We have teamed up with Terracycle® who are excellent at making things out of this type of rubbish and they are going to clean up the mess we made if you help them.”

Then, they should have announced what their future plans were or were not in relation to how their company would contribute to relieving future additions to the global plastics issue. A global plastics issue that they freely admit exists.

Another question that should be asked by us in our communities.

If this type of recycling can be done why aren’t councils working with Terracycle®? How did governments let such recycling that turns out to be possible not be more widely available? Governments should surely have sought out recycling innovators for the greater good. Such companies should not be just hijacked into relationships with the waste makers in a bid to make it look OK to keep producing. It seems a bit tragic that the technology is there but only accessible through what I can only view as a marketing ploy. A real shame.

Stop the plastic production line.

Anyway, even if councils do manage to pull off a larger recycling range or a middle man privateer to help clear up it should not let us deviate from the mission to stop plastic being used in products. We need to keep pressing for greener innovation.

Call To Action – recycle those toothbrushes.

call to action

Should we recycle plastic toothbrushes and our other oral hygiene products?

All these are to be accepted.

  • toothbrushes any brand
  • toothpaste tubes and caps
  • toothbrush outer packaging any brand
  • toothpaste carton any brand
  • toothbrush heads for electric and battery toothbrushes

If we have them to get rid of then yes! It makes little difference how the facility arose there is now a chance that your plastic does not sit in a landfill site or worse still escapes proper disposal. At the moment I imagine that it is a majority of people who still have plastic oral hygiene products to dispose of – one way or another get yours to a collection point – they are all over the world and if you don’t have one near you – create one or go see someone who is likely to get it done if it is not you.

Anyone can sign up to the Colgate® Oral Care Recycling Programme for free at www.terracycle.co.uk either as a private collector or as a public location which is visible on the TerraCycle map which enables other people in that area to drop off their oral care waste of any brand for recycling as well. You can do this in many coutries – just change the settings to your country on the site. TerraCycle rewards shipments of over 200 grams (approx. 15 pieces of oral care products / packaging) with TerraCycle points. A shipment over 1kg in size (approx. 77 pieces of oral care waste) is rewarded with a 100 TerraCycle point donation to the school, charity or non-profit of the sender’s choice. 100 points are worth £1.00 

Please remember that it’s not just Colgate® products that are being accepted it’s all oral hygiene company products. I know I will be. I will also be asking Colgate what their long term aims are for reducing their waste. Whether I am likely to get a response or not I don’t know as I am fairly new to this. I’ll keep you posted.

I think I would also be tempted on encouraging teachers to put together a program teaching about greenwashing and other marketing dupes, don’t let the next generation be fooled into believing greenwashing or other ethical smoke and mirrors just because they have the opportunity to receive funds or even a new playground. This action does not in any way make Colgate® any greener all they have done is point us with our rubbish, that they created for us. to a place that can transform it into other things. If they market it correctly then we think well of them for doing it.

Leave a comment if you have an opinion on this subject, and I hope you do.  I’d love to know if a school local to you got involved to win a playground. Or if you have set up a collection point.