This article may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This helps to cover our costs and keep this site going. Thanks!

According to the American Dental Association, we should replace our toothbrush every 3 to 4 months—or sooner if the bristles begin to wear out. While this is a healthy practice, billions of plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills and our oceans each year.

Despite the fact that toothbrushes are plastic, you can’t just throw them into the recycling bin. This is because the handle and bristles are made from two different kinds of plastics, each with a different recycling code. The handle is usually recycling code #5, while the nylon bristles are recycling code #7. Also, the bristles are typically stapled together with metal.

It is difficult for recycling centers to separate these mixed materials and not all can do it – or will do it. But that doesn’t mean your toothbrush can’t be recycled. It’s just that instead of a traditional recycling center, you can send it to Terracycle… along with any bottles and caps from mouthwash, deodorant, toothpaste tubes, floss containers, and soap packaging.

Also read: Natural Alternatives to Plastic Toothbrushes – And Why You Should Make the Switch

Toms and Terricycle

How Terracycle Recycles Your Plastic Toothbrush

Once collected, Terracycle separates the materials, shreds and cleans them, then melts them into hard plastic. These plastics are then remolded into new recycled products.

To help manage the process, Terracycle partners with brands such as Tom’s of Maine and Colgate, for example, to set up special drop-off locations. To clarify, these locations are not “recycling centers”. They are local businesses that have volunteered to collect the items.

For example, here’s the Tom’s of Maine map of drop-off locations. (Click the map to easily find the closest location.) And if you’d like to participate, you can volunteer your organization as a drop-off location.

To donate used oral care or other difficult-to-recycle items, you’ll need to join Terracycle through one of its brand partners. From there, you’ll receive helpful information and free shipping envelopes to recycle your waste.

[accordions] [accordion title=”Research” load=”hide”]


Comments are closed.