Dental hygiene – brushing up on the circular economy!

Posted on 14 May 2019.

In Slovakia, the toothbrush giant Curaprox is brushing up on the circular economy. In 2017, the brand began encouraging the collection and recycling of its end-of-life products.

A year after the operation launched, 35,000 used toothbrushes have been collected. Two years into the project, more than 100,000 toothbrushes have been collected.

Straws, cutlery, Q-tips and coffee stirrersthe fight against plastic pollution is being ramped up. As evidenced by the directive adopted by the European Union Member States on December 19, 2018, which aims to ban eight single-use plastic products by 2021. But toothbrushes are among the other everyday objects polluting our ecosystems. According to the Planetoscope website, in France alone they represent 1,200 metric tons of waste a year. Just imagine that figure on a global scale...
A handful of start-ups, as well as major brands, have decided to take up the issue. The aim is to develop toothbrushes that are as beneficial for our teeth and gums as they are for our planet. Curaprox, a Swiss company that manufactures toothbrushes has taken up the challenge. In Bratislava, Slovakia, the brand - with a strong local presence - decided in January 2017 to take inspiration from the circular economy and set up a collection and recycling system for used toothbrushes.

Toothbrushes recycled to produce trash cans

Curaprox's first challenge: to raise public awareness about the amount of waste used toothbrushes generate and the importance of recycling them. Collection points have been set up in schools, businesses and shops in Bratislava so that everyone can drop off their old toothbrushes. To reward this gesture for the environment, participants receive a 5 cent reduction on the purchase of a new toothbrush.
Curaprox then picks up all the old toothbrushes and sorts them: the heads are detached leaving just the plastic handles, which are recycled into small colored trash cans. These are then redistributed to participants in the project – in particular primary schools - to encourage selective sorting throughout the city. The first evaluation of the operation a year after its launch found that over 35,000 used toothbrushes had been collected. 5,200 units of trash cans were sent to 195 schools over the course of the pilot year – two bins to every class : one for plastic and one for paper.
And that's not all. Over the next few years the Swiss brand’s experts will be conducting research to develop bioplastic toothbrushes that are almost entirely biodegradable and produced using renewable energy. The circular economy has a bright future in our bathrooms!