Recently I drove past the city’s garbage dump, where I saw mountains of unrecyclable plastic waste. I was amazed and horrified. Plastic waste is destroying people’s homes, animal habitats and the stunning landscape. Sometimes we can have an “out of sight, out of mind” approach. And I definitely had that mindset a couple of months ago.
I work for a toothbrush company. The factory produces thousands of toothbrushes every day.And they are sold all over the world.The amount of unrecyclable plastic waste in dentistry is astronomical.If you are looking for a more environmentally friendly option, you should read this blog.
Can you recycle electric toothbrush heads?
You can’t throw your brush heads into your regular recycling bin because of the many different small components that make up the replacement brush head. They have different plastics and tiny metal parts inside that make the toothbrush move and hold in the bristles.
Also, they are made of a mixture of different plastics, for example, most replacement brush heads are made out of rubber (TPE) and Polypropylene which cannot be readily recycled. Unless you can separate all the different parts of the replacement electric brush heads.
Whilst the ability to recycle these is becoming greater, getting these items to the recycler is not as simple as we might like.
Thankfully some brands are stepping in to help address this issue, by funding nationwide recycling programmes.
What about recycling the electric toothbrush handle?
An electric toothbrush contains plastic batteries and electrical components.
The batteries in particular should not be disposed with or amongst your ‘normal’ waste.
The chemicals in the battery can be dangerous to the environment if disposed amongst general waste that goes to landfill. It should therefore be recycled.
Or you could upcycle your electric toothbrush and keep it to help clean other things. How about those hard to reach areas on your sinks and taps or the grout in behind the sink or in the shower? Those little heads are great at cleaning small hard to reach areas.
Can you recycle plastic toothbrush handles?
You can’t recycle manual plastic toothbrushes because they are formed from multiple plastics moulded together which cannot be separated by your local city recycling.
A better option to using a plastic manual brush is to use a bamboo toothbrush.
Can you recycle bamboo toothbrushes?
If you use a bamboo toothbrush it is important to note that you have to cut off the bristles or snap off the head before recycling. The bristles are made out of nylon, which is gentle on the gums and teeth but cannot biodegrade.
I find that some of the advertising for these bamboo toothbrushes can be quite misleading in the sense they claim it to be completely biodegradable when in fact – it is not!
The bamboo brush handle should be composted – as it will break down on its own in a few years if put outside but if you have a home composter it should only take a few months.
How about electric bamboo toothbrush?
You likely already know that one easy step in creating an eco-friendly bathroom is making the switch to a bamboo toothbrush. But what if you use an electric toothbrush? Are you stuck using those wasteful plastic heads? Not when you make the switch to bamboo electric toothbrush heads!
The bamboo toothbrush heads are made from 100% biodegradable bamboo, and the bristles are derived from castor bean oil. When the head reaches the end of its useful life, simply use a pair of pliers to pull out the bristles and toss the head into your compost bin!
Finally, I wanted to make a mention of the packaging in which toothbrushes comes.
To date from all the toothbrushes I have tested, I have found all brands have outer cardboard boxes, but only the tiny minority tend to have a cardboard inner much like the material/texture of an egg box. This is a more environmentally approach to packaging.