Year by year and package by package, we are constantly innovating our product lines to create more sustainable packaging for our customers and end consumers. As the world continues to present unknowns, consumers are relying on the transparency and guidance from brands now more than ever. A new study from McKinsey & Company titled Sustainability in Packaging: Inside the Minds of US Consumers states, “A granular understanding of end-user segments will be critical. […] To act proactively, packaging players must understand, at a granular level, how consumers buy and use the products in a given category and how consumers dispose of the packaging now in use.” With the ongoing sustainability conversation at the forefront amongst consumers, alongside our commitment to a healthier environment, we have created a more recyclable, single substrate packaging solution.
Understanding Tube Recyclability
In 2016, we worked with the American Chemistry council to study tubes within the recycling stream. We discovered that only 1% of consumers have tube-recycling access. Considering tubes are in almost every household throughout the US and Canada, this number is alarmingly low. In addition to the lack of accessibility, we learned about the absence of education surrounding the initiative to recycle tubes. When we found tube recyclability to be almost non-existent, we challenged ourselves to be a leader in sustainability improvement and a catalyst to turn tubes from “recyclable” to “recycled.”
Driving to Make it Better
Last year, we teamed up with More Recycling to create a coalition of industry stakeholders aiding in the Roadmap to Recyclability–collaborative partners responsible for fostering tube recycling. The research and consulting company has over twenty years of proficiency within the recycling of post-consumer materials with expertise in plastics. The insights provided by More Recycling helped us identify the barriers within tube recycling and outline a path to achieve a recyclable plastic squeeze tube. Research influenced the Association of Plastic Recyclers to recognize tubes as recyclable in the HDPE bottle stream–a key driver towards tube acceptance in curbside recycling streams.
We are the only tube manufacturer involved with this coalition; other members include leading brands such as Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Colgate-Palmolive. This group effort, and the completion of step one in August, is helping to build momentum to help ensure collected tubes can be recycled:
- Clear tubes design guidance through the Association of Plastics Recyclers
- Engagement across the value chain on handling the transition from non-recyclable to recyclable tubes and inclusion of tubes in bale specifications
- Utilization of MRF communication tools and partners to inform MRFs on tube acceptance once confirmed
To help accelerate the acceptance of tubes in the recycling stream, we have recently launched our new Divinity high-density polyethylene (HDPE) flip-top closure. Pairing this with our squeezable polyethylene (PE) tube creates a sustainable, fully recyclable package. In addition, our polyethylene tube has just been recognized by the Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR) as meeting technically recyclable with the HDPE bottle stream.
We understand that sustainability plays a critical role in the consumer-purchasing journey. “It’s important that we ensure that tubes, whether laminate or extruded, are part of the sustainable packaging story,” says Sarah Groves, our Vice President of product line management. “By adding this Divinity HDPE flip-top closure to create a single-substrate package, brand owners can feel confident that our tubes support their sustainability goals for recyclability,” Groves continued.
Through these efforts and others, we will continue to work to improve tube recyclability.
1 "Plastic Squeeze Tubes: Achieving Recyclability Beyond Design.” MORE Recycling. Accessed November 20, 2020. https://www.plasticsmarkets.org/jsfcontent/TubesProgress2020_jsf_3.pdf