Product Design

Brushing Away Plastic Waste

Remove plaque from your teeth and plastic from the environment — and smile.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2020 - Raise your hand if there’s a toothbrush in it first thing in the morning, before you’re fully awake. For most of us, starting the day with clean teeth and fresh breath is nonnegotiable. But have you ever considered that your daily oral hygiene routine can actually have an impact on the health of the environment as well as the health of your teeth?

According to the American Dental Association, one billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away each year in the United States, creating 50 million pounds of waste. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, we can embrace a circular economy by using recycled plastic to create new toothbrushes that can then be recycled again.

Clean teeth, cleaner environment

In a drive to be more sustainable and encourage recycling, top consumer goods companies are turning to used plastic — think yogurt cups, for instance — and are repurposing it into new materials to produce everyday necessities, including toothbrushes. Reusing recycled plastic from something like a yogurt cup to produce toothbrushes not only lowers the amount of plastic waste in the environment, but also extends the useful life of each piece of plastic manufactured.

If you’re thinking it’s about time to replace your toothbrush, Preserve offers an array of toothbrushes made from recycled #5 plastic, including things like yogurt cups. Not only are the toothbrushes made from 100% recycled polypropylene (#5) plastic, but they are a circular product, thanks to the company’s recycling program. Mail your used toothbrush back to Preserve and they’ll recycle it to create new products.

“As part of our mission to create products that are both great to use and lighter on the Earth, we transform yogurt cups into toothbrushes and take-out containers into tableware,” said Eric Hudson, Founder and CEO at Preserve. “Using recycled content instead of virgin plastic results in less waste and offers significant savings in water, energy and greenhouse gases.”

Incorporating recycled plastics into your daily grooming routine doesn’t have to stop at toothbrushes. PureCycle Technologies, a company that offers recycled plastic with the same qualities as virgin plastic, has partnered with a number of brands to repurpose used plastics in the personal care and beauty space. L’Oréal, for example, uses recycled plastics from PureCycle Technologies in its beauty product packaging.

Take action

Repurposing plastic waste and giving it new life by transforming it into toothbrushes is the concept of From Single Use to Reuse in action. By learning how to recycle properly according to your community’s program, you can contribute to reusing and recycling more plastics to create useful products. Most importantly, to make sure you’re recycling correctly and keeping plastics out of the environment, check with your local recycler, or visit berecycled.org.

Continue to visit From Single Use to Reuse to learn more about how communities, companies, and brands are recycling and using recycled plastics.

Glossary

Polypropylene:  Polypropylene, also known as PP or by the recycling #5, is a food-safe plastic. It’s used to hold all kinds of foods, beverages and medications. It can also be used to make carpeting, roof membranes and fabric.

See Our Full Glossary

Progress in action

Explore news about trends, innovations, plastic solutions, and From Single Use to Reuse partners.

See All Stories