The challenge of making plastic and laminate squeeze tubes fully recyclable is one that the industry has faced for years. One company has stepped forward to lead an industry-wide sustainability effort called the Tube Recycling Project.

Stina Inc., a pioneer in advocating for sustainable resource use, recently marked a significant milestone in its ongoing plastic Tube Recycling Project. The project, initiated in 2015 in the US and later in Europe in 2020, aims to make plastic squeeze tubes recyclable. These tubes, which are commonly used for products like toothpaste, cosmetics, personal care products, and lotions, have historically presented unique recycling challenges due to their material composition and design.

A major hurdle in the project was the diverse designs of these tubes, some of which included non-recyclable materials like aluminum barrier layers. The collaboration across multiple stakeholders, including producers and recyclers, was pivotal. This joint effort led to a deeper understanding of the recycling process from the recycler's perspective, which in turn guided innovations in tube design.

Stacey Luddy, COO of Stina Inc., proudly announced, "90 percent of toothpaste tubes and over 75 percent of all HDPE plastic squeeze tubes now on the US market are designed to be compatible with the color HDPE bottle recycling stream." This achievement is crucial because it demonstrates that these tubes can now be processed within the mainstream recycling system, maintaining the value of the recycled material. With this step forward, eco-friendly packaging for cosmetics and other products is quickly becoming more attractive to both manufacturers and consumers.

The success of the Tube Recycling Project hinges on its collaborative approach, involving stakeholders from various sectors within the recycling and production process. Brands and manufacturers worked closely with recycling guidelines set by organizations like the Association of Plastic Recyclers and RecyClass to redesign and produce tubes that meet recyclability standards without compromising on functionality.

The commitment from global brands and manufacturers in redesigning their products has been instrumental. Notable contributors to the project include industry giants like Colgate-Palmolive Company, Estée Lauder, and Huhtamaki, among others. Their efforts are complemented by the technical expertise from recycling specialists at KW Plastics, who are optimistic about the quality of material these redesigned tubes will contribute to the recycling stream.

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