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Your toothbrush is also part of the plastic crisis

February 01, 2020

At first, it was just an occasional piece of plastic waste that Kahi Pacarro, the founder of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, picked up on the beach cleanups he organises throughout the state. A straw here, a bottle there. But one day he spotted something particularly surprising: a toothbrush. Now, in any given Hawaii beach cleanup, he says it’s not uncommon to pick up between 50 and 100 toothbrushes.

Every year, 3.6B plastic toothbrushes are used worldwide with the average person using 300 in their lifetime. As with other plastic debris, each toothbrush takes up to a thousand years to decompose. It’s little wonder that by 2050 there will be a higher volume of plastic in the oceans than fish.

We don’t need to explain to you why our oceans need help; we all know we need to act now to protect marine habitats before it’s too late. Focusing on the humble toothbrush, how can do our bit?

In short, they can’t be tossed into your regular household recycling. Toothbrushes require specialist recycling to separate the different materials: plastic handles, nylon bristles, and in some cases the metal used to hold the bristles in place. Even the bristles of bamboo toothbrushes are made from nylon, which is a type of plastic.

Companies like TerraCycle have special machines to disassemble them and turn them into recycled plastic pellets, which other companies can use to create new products. At Floe Oral Care, we are committed to closing the loop and ensuring that no toothbrush is left behind. We will pick up your used products every time we deliver a new box, allowing us to co-ordinate their journey to specialist plants.

It’s all part of re-designing our planet’s future and moving from a linear economy…

… to a circular economy.

Every piece of plastic floating in the ocean today was once a brand new product made by some company, somewhere. While consumers are increasingly mindful of the impact that household waste has on the environment, we believe it is time for companies to take ownership as well; especially when their products cannot be recycled normally.

At Floe our mission is to take full responsibility for every product we make, from brand new, to disposal, to recycling. That way we will ensure that no toothbrush ends up where it shouldn’t.

The actions of any one of us may seem to have no effect. But the knowledge that there are thousands of people who are doing the same thing really does have an impact.

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