Hi Heather

Great question! New packaging formats appearing on supermarket shelves recently are causing quite a few Australians to ask questions about how to recycle toothpaste tubes. We love that you’ve contacted us to ask.

There are a few reasons why certain items are not accepted in your kerbside recycling system - the toothpaste tube ticks a few of these boxes!

Firstly, the item needs to be the right shape and size to be able to be processed through the collection trucks and sorting equipment.  The kerbside system is designed to process more rigid items like bottles and jars. Flexible tubes, plastic bags and wrappers can get caught in sorting equipment and causing breakdowns.

Secondly, items collected in kerbside recycling are separated into different material streams. Almost all toothpaste tubes are made with layers of aluminium and plastic. Because the different materials can’t be separated, the aluminium present in toothpaste tubes  contaminate the plastic recycling stream.

Lastly, recyclers need to have an end market for the plastic material.  Plastics are complex because there are so many different types and many also have additives or colourants that impact their recyclability. There is an enormous amount of investment going into new recycling technologies, however, we are currently producing more packaging waste than can be recycled.

To answer your question, toothpaste tubes (including the new Colgate Smile for Good tubes which have removed the aluminium layer) are commonly not accepted in kerbside recycling bins due to processing or end market limitations.

If you happen to find any local recycling or re-use options, we would love to hear about it!

Thank you for getting in touch. Please feel free reach out if you have any other questions.