To keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy, you must replace your toothbrush regularly, but throwing toothbrushes in the trash is a waste. Colgate has partnered with the recycling company TerraCycle to provide a solution to the problem of what to do with old, worn toothbrushes. When yours is more than three months old or its bristles begin to fray, it's recycle toothbrush time!
What Are Toothbrushes Made From?
The handles of most modern manual toothbrushes sold in the U.S. are made from a plastic called polypropylene, according to Design Life-Cycle, a project created by students at the University of California School of Design. Polypropylene is flexible, resistant to wear and recyclable. You might have noticed triangle symbols on plastic products, and at the center of the triangle is a number, which is Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recyclable plastics classification. Under the EPA's guidelines, polypropylene is number five.
Which Toothbrushes Can Be Recycled?
TerraCycle's recycle toothbrush program accepts manual toothbrushes and oral care packaging. Electric and battery toothbrushes aren't included in TerraCycle's program. Contact your local government office to ask about recycling composite electrical devices and batteries.
How Are Plastic Toothbrushes Recycled?
TerraCycle's U.S. Public Relations Manager, Stacey Krauss, explains how TerraCycle recycles plastic toothbrushes, reports Earth911. First, TerraCycle separates each toothbrush into bristles, a handle and staples. All the metal staples are shipped off for regular recycling, but bristles and handles are shredded and cleaned, and then turned into hard plastic pellets. The company next uses the pellets to create consumer products like garden tools, benches, playground equipment and picnic tables.
Can I Recycle Other Colgate Products?
TerraCycle accepts many Colgate products as well as toothbrushes, including empty toothpaste tubes and caps, floss containers, toothbrush packaging and toothpaste cartons. Some of these products are upcycled, which is a little different from recycling. Upcycling means transforming the waste into another product without breaking it down into its raw materials. School supplies like backpacks, notebooks and pens are some of TerraCycle's upcycled items that Colgate donates to schools.
By taking advantage of Colgate's and TerraCycle's partnership, you can replace your toothbrush regularly and keep your teeth in top shape while being friendly to the environment. When your toothbrush shows signs of wear or it's more than three months old, ship it for free to TerraCycle along with other used Colgate products like toothpaste tubes and cartons. You can rest easy knowing that your toothbrush materials can be recycled into something useful.