An independent laboratory, which was tasked with testing the new toothpaste technology PARKES packaging developed by Unilever, attested that it is fully compatible with the recycling stream of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers. The results from the German Institut für Kunststofftechnologie und -recycling (IKTR) which carried out the tests and followed the RecyClass Recyclability Evaluation Protocol for HDPE containers, showed that the tube technology is fully recyclable.
Testing was carried out on laminated toothpaste tubes made of HDPE and LDPE, this included a decorated (‘A300’) tube, an undecorated (‘A220’) tube, and a tube with recycled content (‘E300P’). The concentration of Ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH) in the barrier is below 5% of the total weight of the packaging and incorporates more than 3% of polyethylene (PE) tie layers grafted with at least 0,1% maleic anhydride (MAH).
Barrier technologies are known to disrupt the recycling of HDPE containers, however, in the case of the new PARKES technology developed by Unilever, it was shown to advance effective recycling. As a result, it can be recycled back into high-end applications including HDPE containers.
The tested packaging remains recyclable as long as it meets specific conditions which include the amount of EVOH material in the recycling stream (that must not exceed 5%), requirements related to the density, printing technology used and closures, to name a few.
RecyClass approval does not apply to the toothpaste tube cap, which was not in the scope of the test. A review of the current polypropylene (PP) closure of the package is strongly recommended, as it is known to influence the recyclability of HDPE.
The findings of the analysis of the compatibility of the toothpaste technology PARKES packaging with the HDPE container recycling stream is a step towards advancing the circularity of HDPE plastic packaging. Unilever’s PARKES packaging is therefore positively contributing to increasing the recycling rates of this type of packaging.
 The full list of the conditions can be found in the cited Technology Approval Letters.
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products, with sales in over 190 countries and products used by 2.5 billion people every day. We have 149,000 employees and generated sales of €50.7 billion in 2020. Over half of our footprint is in developing and emerging markets. We have around 400 brands found in homes all over the world – including iconic global brands like Dove, Lifebuoy, Knorr, Magnum, OMO and Surf; and other brands such as Love Beauty & Planet, Hourglass, Seventh Generation and The Vegetarian Butcher.
Our vision is to be the global leader in sustainable business and to demonstrate how our purpose-led, future-fit business model drives superior performance. We have a long tradition of being a progressive, responsible business. It goes back to the days of our founder William Lever, who launched the world’s first purposeful brand, Sunlight Soap, more than 100 years ago, and it’s at the heart of how we run our company today.
The Unilever Compass, our sustainable business strategy, is set out to help us deliver superior performance and drive sustainable and responsible growth, while:
– improving the health of the planet;
– improving people’s health, confidence and wellbeing; and
– contributing to a fairer and more socially inclusive world.
While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognised in 2020 as a sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and – for the tenth-consecutive year – as the top ranked company in the 2020 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Sustainability Leaders survey.
For more information about Unilever and our brands, please visit www.unilever.com.
RecyClass is a comprehensive cross-industry initiative that works to advance plastic packaging recyclability and to establish a harmonized approach towards recycled content calculation and traceability in Europe. Activities within RecyClass include the development of Recyclability Evaluation Protocols and scientific testing of innovative materials which serve as the base for the Design for Recycling guidelines and the free online tool. RecyClass offers Recyclability Certifications and Recycled Content Traceability Certification for plastic packaging.