When it comes to sustainability in packaging, the market segments that are often discussed first are the food and beverage – single serve plastics that are not easily recycled and end up either in landfills, or worse, contributing to our pollution problem. There is one brand in the personal care segment in particular though that has been a leader in sustainability for more that 50 years.
Tom’s of Maine has been at the forefront of bringing natural ingredients and an environmental ethic to its line of personal care products. Tom’s is probably most famous for its toothpaste, but we wanted to highlight how the brand has taken its flexible plastic tube, and engineered it so it can enter most curbside recycling streams – a trailblazing step for this packaging format.
In November of 2019, Tom’s first announced that its toothpaste packaging would be transitioning to #2 HDPE packaging, which many consumers are already accustomed to including in their recycling practices. According to the brand’s announcement at the time, most toothpaste are made from a mixed plastic construction, which prevents them from being recycled and leads to them being landfilled instead.
Over the course of the past year, Tom’s of Maine has been phasing in this new packaging, and by the end of 2020, had changed over its full line of toothpaste to the new format. So, with this first-of-its kind tube now on the market, how would the brand inform consumers of this new sustainable step?
The answer in part, comes from the blue recycling symbol that is present on both the tube and the folding carton it comes in. On the tube, Tom’s did a great job of giving the recycling symbol some significant real estate, and extended the call out across the length of the tube, informing consumers of the switch, and giving them a call to action to learn more on the Tom’s of Maine website.
Below the chasing arrows meanwhile, the consumer is given the simple instructions of once the tube is empty, just replace the cap and recycle with other #2 plastics.
There’s no doubt that pollution from plastic packaging is a problem that demands immediate attention and action from all stakeholders, and improving recyclability is a great step forward.