We use toothbrushes daily, some of us use them even twice daily. The dentists keep telling us that every few months the toothbrush needs to be replaced with a new one because they have worn off. Some of these times, we buy a new toothbrush just because it looks fancy. Then there is specific kids’ toothbrush which keeps getting changed even more often.
Also, toothbrushes are low intent purchase and hence nobody really thinks before buying one. They come as cheap at fifteen rupees, who would even think right? The better and expensive ones come with the promise of durability and a strong build which means putting in all the more plastic to make them strong! And all of this; no one really thinks about it twice because after all, it is just a toothbrush!
The Surprise or Shock
Well, plastic toothbrushes alone are responsible for adding 50 million pounds of plastic waste in the USA alone. Imagine what the magnitude would be when we add other countries to it. It is important here to note that most of the plastic waste isn’t coming from large containers or something like that. Most of the plastic waste comes from the plastics we use daily. We think that it is just this small bit that we are using but multiply it with the number of times we use such articles and then multiply it with the population and we will understand how significant that amount is.
This Piece in Specific about Unilever
So, bamboo toothbrushes were launched recently in India by multiple brands. However, while the problem of the plastic handle got solved, the issue with the plastic bristles still remained. Indeed it was a good effort and in no way would we try and undermine that but a bit of more innovation was needed.
Unilever, being at the helm of such sustainable innovations soon came up with an upgrade. Only this time, it was recycled toothbrushes
What is this Recycled Toothbrush?
Well, the Signal Ecolo Clean Toothbrush, launched by Unilever in France is made from 100% food-grade post-consumer recycled plastic. This ensures that every such toothbrush has 40% less plastic than an average toothbrush which means that it can save up to 10 tonnes of plastic within a year, the more it gets used, the more is the overall plastic waste reduction.
The bigger news, however, is that this toothbrush doesn’t have to be discarded like that. It is 100% recyclable too. Since this toothbrush has been launched in France for now, Unilever has partnered with TerraCycle® which would take the used toothbrush and recycle them yet again. Even the packaging of this toothbrush is paper which means this complete toothbrush package is a huge plastic waste saviour.
Well, we are looking at a global launch for the toothpaste after the initial pilot in France should that is well received. Maybe such an innovation would set in motion, the other firms too to work towards reducing plastic waste in general.
If we talk of the Indian front, a lot of good initiatives are being taken and we are hopeful that given the tendency of the masses and the seriousness of the authorities towards sustainability and environment protection, any such innovation will be well received.
Will close this piece with an example of the Kerala Municipalities- every time there is an event where people could end up throwing plastic bottles, the team takes a refundable 10-50 rupees from every visitor as a guarantee against the amount of plastic they are carrying. If you return the plastic to them instead of throwing it like that, you get your money back!
(At BuzzonEarth, we feel that any innovation or step towards sustainability has to come thinking of the nature of the masses in general. No change can be forced but the changes have to be made. We feel that is where the concept of sustainability comes in. With Unilever’s efforts and the likes of the Kerala Authorities, we feel that a positive change is possible and will come soon)