Sector News

Dow commercializes aluminum-free toothpaste tube in recyclability boost

October 17, 2021
Energy & Chemical Value Chain

Sustainable materials producer Dow is advancing toward 100% recyclable packaging by 2035 with the commercialization of an aluminum-free, recyclable toothpaste tube.

This packaging solution is set to reduce the global number of used toothpaste tubes entering landfills, driving global circular economy solutions in the oral hygiene sector.

Dow uses polyethylene-based (PE) technology that meets the exact performance requirements of traditional multilayer toothpaste tubes.

The packaging solution solves the recyclability issue by removing the aluminum layer, while protecting the integrity of toothpaste products. It also offers printability, thereby enabling brand owners to design for shelf appeal.

“Recyclable toothpaste tubes represent another step toward circular economy solutions,” says Diego Donoso, president of Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics, a business unit of Dow.

“This new offering is part of a broader product portfolio of solutions that helps consumer brands reduce their environmental footprint and meet growing consumer demands for sustainability without compromising product performance,” adds Bambang Candra, Asia Pacific commercial vice president of Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics.

Overcoming challenges
The packaging was initially developed and manufactured in the Asia Pacific region, but is now available in stores worldwide. Dow worked closely with global toothpaste brands to bring the sustainable solution into mass production.

However, making the tubes recyclable is a technically challenging endeavor, the company notes. As toothpaste is sensitive to oxygen and humidity, toothpaste manufacturers traditionally use tubes made from a combination of different plastics and a layer of aluminum, making the packaging nearly impossible to recycle.

Non-recyclable toothpaste tubes account for an estimated 100,000 tons of waste each year – roughly the weight of 10 Eiffel Towers.

Dow’s sustainability endeavors
In addition to toothpaste tubes, Dow has also launched several all-PE flexible packaging solutions, which have gained traction with fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brand partners.

These developments are part of Dow’s efforts to achieve its Close the Loop target for 100% of its packaging solutions to be recyclable or reusable by 2035. Its target is for one million metric tons of plastic to be collected, reused or recycled through its direct actions and partnerships by 2030.

Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics also recently unveiled a pouch-to-pouch mechanical recycling concept in partnership with HP Indigo, Reifenhäuser, Cadel Deinking and Karlville.

Personal care and home industry
Personal care players have shown interest in designing more sustainable packaging for their products. In September, Henkel Laundry & Home Care introduced Somat All in 1 Gel Pro Nature, made with 80% naturally derived ingredients and 50% environmentally sustainable plastic packaging.

Aptar Beauty + Home unveiled Purity Lite, a PE closure and tube combination that creates a fully recyclable mono-material solution for personal care products in the same month.

Meanwhile, Dow processed paper pulp production to create upcycled residue, which was used to develop UPM Raflatac Forest Film PE. The residue reduces fossil-based raw material content in personal care and home labeling applications.

Edited by Nicole Kerr


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