Unilever gets into sustainable oral care race with recycled plastic toothbrush

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

image courtesy of Unilever
image courtesy of Unilever

Related tags Plastic recycled plastic PCR Oral care Toothbrush

Among multinationals, Colgate has been making headlines in the sustainable oral care space of late, and several indie and startup brands are pushing the category forward as well. Now Unilever is back in the game with today’s launch of the Signal Ecolo Clean toothbrush.

The new toothbrush is a product of the company’s No Plastic, Better Plastic, Less Plastic framework.

“Signal has produced the first toothbrush to tick all the boxes on Unilever’s new commitment to creating a circular economy for plastic – cutting virgin plastic out of the process,” ​asserts the company in today’s media release announcing the launch of the Ecolo Clean toothbrush.

“And it’s a perfect fit with our agenda on plastics which has three strong pillars: no plastic (the box), less plastic (the light, smart design), and better plastic (the fully recycled plastic handle).”

Taking environmentally sustainable oral care further

Unilever has introduced the new recycled and recyclable toothbrush in France, where consumers can bring it to a TerraCycle collection point to be recycled when they’re finished using it. And there are plans to introduce it in other markets as well.

And the Ecolo Clean toothbrush itself is a next step in the company’s sustainability initiative: As Project Leader Leila Esmaeili tells the press, “At the start of 2019 we launched Signal’s first bamboo toothbrush to reduce the brand’s impact on the environment. Now, with Ecolo Clean, we’ve seized this opportunity to lead a massive sustainable change in the toothbrush category.”

“This is just the beginning,” she says, adding that, “Across every part of Unilever, we have the objective to cut our use of virgin plastic by half and use 100% reusable, recyclable plastic by 2025. We’re working on it now.”

As Esmaeili suggests this goes well beyond oral care for Unilever. Dove is also making changes to its plastic use to help the company meet its sustainability objectives.

“At Dove…we are passionately committed to being one of the brands making the biggest impact against plastic waste,” ​Marcela Melero, Dove global skin cleansing Vice President, said late last year in a media release about the brand’s new plastic-reduction packaging initiative.

And she adds, “We know we're not perfect, but we can't afford to wait. We're working to have the biggest positive impact we can, as quickly as we can, and empowering others to do the same.”

Unilever’s new ‘better’ plastic toothbrush

The newly designed plastic brush is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR), and food-grade plastic, at that. The handle is hollow and features a cut-out design, which means it requires some 40% plastic than a typical toothbrush handle design does. According to Unilever’s media release, this will “[save] 10 tonnes of plastic in the first year.”



Deanna Utroske writes regularly about sustainable beauty innovations from around the world. ​Hers is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry as well as in the independent beauty movement. As Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, she publishes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.

Deanna will be traveling next to the Personal Care Product Council’s annual meeting; if you’ll be there too and have beauty business news to share, feel free to contact her at qrnaan.hgebfxr@jeoz.pbz

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