Colgate Releases Vegan-Certified Toothpaste in First-of-Its-Kind Recyclable Tube
Colgate has launched a new line of toothpaste in a fully recyclable tube, a first for toothpaste, as The Guardian reported.
Colgate's Smile For Good brand, which is only available in Europe right now, has been certified by The Vegan Society and comes in a tube made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is the same plastic used for milk containers, according to The Guardian.
Most types of toothpaste are made with glycerin, a byproduct of animal fat. The Smile For Good line, however, uses plant-sourced glycerin, according to USA Today.
Toothpaste brands also make their tubes out of a combination of several layers of plastics, polymers and resins that cannot be recycled and take more than 500 years to break down, as New Atlas reported. The new tubes, which use HDPE, are easy to recycle, according to USA Today.
Colgate also boasts that its product is 99.7 percent natural. Furthermore, in an industry first, each ingredient is listed and its purpose explained on the recyclable packaging, according to the Daily Mail. For example, the tube explains that silica cleans and polishes while glycerin prevents the paste from drying out, according to the The Guardian.
Yet, the new product has a hefty price tag compared to traditional toothpastes; it costs $6.50 at the British chain Waitrose compared to just over one-dollar for the other toothpaste tubes, as the Daily Mail reported.
To make the tube recyclable, engineers figured out how to mix different grades and thickness levels of the laminate in the tube to maintain the squeezable effect while also meeting recycling standards. Colgate is shooting for 100 percent recyclable packaging by 2025 across its product lines, according to the Daily Mail.
It will also share its tube's technology with its competition so the entire industry can meet third-party recycling requirements, as the Daily Mail reported.
"Colgate wants to make tubes a part of the circular economy by keeping this plastic productive and eliminating waste," said Noel Wallace, CEO and president of Colgate-Palmolive, as The Guardian reported. "If we can standardize recyclable tubes among all companies, we all win. We can align on these common standards for tubes and still compete with what's inside them."
A couple of entrepreneurs in Canada, however, have gone a step farther and created toothpaste tablets to eliminate the tube entirely, according to New Atlas.
"If we want to be sustainable, a fundamental change is required. We've developed toothpaste tablets that remove the need for a tube altogether. We want to ensure that our kids and their kids are able to live their lives in a safe, healthy environment," said Canadian entrepreneurs Mike Medicoff and Damien Vince to to New Atlas.
New Atlas explained how the product called Change Toothpaste works: "[T]he cleaning tablets are designed to be placed between the back teeth, gently bitten down upon, and then brushed with a wet toothbrush. The broken tablet then starts to foam and you can brush your teeth as usual."
Change Toothpaste is also vegan-friendly, as well as free from fluoride, gluten, dairy, nuts and soy. The entrepreneurs are working on an upgrade that will contain fluoride.
"After trying over a hundred formulations, we created the perfect toothpaste tablet recipe, that give you a clean, fresh brush without any harsh chemicals, and packaged in 100 percent compostable pouches. Just like paste, without the waste!" the pair said to New Atlas.
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Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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