top of page

Toothpaste Tube, explained

A large part of the toothpaste industries use the so-called PBL (Plastic Barrier Laminate) Tubes or ABL (Aluminium Barrier Laminate) tubes as packaging.

How to tell them apart?

PBLs are those that return to their original shape after being pressed, contrary to ABL or ALU, which change their shape after being pressed.

A PBL tube is a multi-layer, all-plastic laminated packaging.

1. Polyethylene outer layer

It is the plastic coating that we see, on which the digital printing happens. It usually is bright white.

Polyethylene is the simplest plastic polymer. It is one of the most common plastics due to its low price and simple manufacture. It generates approximately 80 million tons of residues per year worldwide..

2. Middle layer of adhesive (also polyethylene)

This layer is made from a polyethylene polymer that holds the protective barrier and outer polyethylene layer together.

3. Inner layer: EVOH barrier (Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol) (More plastic)

Made from plastic granules, it serves to protect the contents of the tube from oxygen and thus prolong its life. It also prevents certain oils from transferring between the outer plastic layers to or from the product.

An ABL tube, in addition to plastic, contains aluminum.

Like PBL, it has the outer and adhesive layers of polyethylene and an aluminum layer that replaces the EVOH layer to perform the same function.

According to manufacturers, PBL or ABL tubes, have "indisputable" aesthetic qualities (a very dubious argument) since it 'allows to offer a high quality impression, especially with digital printing. The new invisible welding seams that close the tube allow a 360° impression on the entire tube'.

The problem?

Yes, the cardboard boxes that the toothpaste tubes come in are 100% recyclable as long as they don't have plastic laminates. However, plastic toothpaste tubes are not recyclable because, as we described, they are made of multiple laminated plastics and in some cases also aluminum.

Each type of plastic has a different recycling process. That is why when different types of plastic are joined in the same laminate, it becomes practically impossible to separate them for recycling.


According to a study published in the British Dental Journal in 2021, it takes 500 years for a tube of toothpaste to fully biodegrade in a landfill, which means:

Every tube you've ever used could still be in a big hole in the ground, a landfill, or ocean.

These tubes don't take care of your wallet either!

This study also mentions that there is a high probability that you will not get your money's worth, as there is up to 10% of the toothpaste left when you think the tube is empty.

It is necessary that the people involved in the production, promotion and distribution of the products take into account ecologycal criteria to create their packaging. Likewise, we as consumers have the power to choose 100% recyclable or refillable packaging so that the industry adapts to our needs and not the other way around.

Thank you for reading us.

Your team, TeethTab.

También puedes encontrar este post en: Español.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page