Can you recycle toothpaste tubes?

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Recycling – although necessary for the environment – can be a bit of a pain sometimes, with local councils usually giving varied and detailed instructions on what can be recycled, what is considered general waste and what you need to take to the dump.  Yes, bubble wrap is made out of plastic, but it’s one that confuses a lot of people as it works slightly differently. Lockdown’s seen a huge rise in home deliveries, with many of us piling up endless amounts of cardboard boxes, padded envelopes and bubble wrap. But what can be disposed of with the recycling? Here’s all you need to know…

Can you recycle toothpaste tubes?

Toothpaste tubes fall into the same category as other cosmetic plastic tubes, such as moisturiser, foundation or hair products.

Yes, they’re made out of plastic, but they shouldn’t be added to your general recycling along with other plastics, as they vary in their recyclability.

Some kinds of cosmetic containers are made out of plastic that can’t be recycled, although this is steadily changing, with brands increasing their usage of recyclable plastic.

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Like most waste, what is and isn’t allowed depends entirely on the local authority’s rules, so it’s best to check yours out.

However, the general rule is that if your authority collects pots, tubs and trays, you can usually include plastic tubes too, but you need to be careful.

Councils usually have a ban on toothpaste tubes as they’re often made from an unrecyclable plastic and contain a metal layer.

In general, they aren’t actually recyclable, but some oral care brands such as Colgate offer recycling schemes for their products.

Pump-action toothpastes are considered to be better for the environment, so maybe consider picking up those instead, as they can be recycled.

What else can’t be put in household recycling?

There’s a number of different items which can’t actually be recycled, and they might shock you.

Sticky notes are one, as despite them being paper, the glue on the adhesive strip makes them difficult to recycle, so most authorities won’t allow them to be chucked in with your household recycling.

Paper receipts are also on the banned list, but only the ones which are printed on the shiny, thermal paper used in most large-name shops.

These are a no-no due to them being coated in chemicals which are bad for the environment.

Makeup removal pads and cotton wool are also not allowed, but in some instances can be composted with food waste instead.

Pringles cans should also be excluded from recycling bins, and they’re one of the worst offenders when it comes to lack of recyclability.

The cans combine five different materials such as the cardboard outer sleeve, a silver foil lining, a metal base, plastic lid and a tear-off foil on the top.

Where does plastic recycling go and what happens to it?

After the local services pick up the waste, it goes to a recycling facility where plastic and other kinds of materials are separated.

They are filtered by size, which gets rid of small unrecyclable bits and keeps the larger items for further sorting, as different kinds of plastics need to be kept separate.

Once the items are clean and sorted out, they’re sold on to be reprocessed, melted or shredded down and repurposed.

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