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Does Your Toothbrush Make the Environment Bristle?

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Dr. Christopher Helt

Manager of Technical Development, The Sustainability Consortium

“Consumers have shown they care about sustainability. Businesses should too.”

Oral care products include many types of products consumers use on a daily basis for oral hygiene, teeth whitening, and breath freshening. And yet, despite the heavy usage, most people do not stop to consider the impact these products have on the environment. You may be surprised to learn that conventional oral care products can have just as much effect on the environment as a discarded orange, a t-shirt, or a computer.

Clean teeth, dirty planet

The manufacturing of oral care products impacts our planet in various ways, through the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, excessive water use in factories, and harmful packaging that can clog up landfills. Additionally, oral care products may contain ingredients derived from palm oil, the production of which is one of the leading causes of deforestation and a significant contributor to climate change.

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) researches how sustainability science can help make the manufacturing of consumer products more efficient and environmentally-friendly. We and our team of researchers, based at the University of Arkansas, Arizona State University, and Wageningen University & Research, help companies track and understand the sustainability issues endemic to their supply chains.

In comes TSC

TSC tools and resources give companies insight into how the manufacturers of oral care products are performing on sustainability metrics and how they can improve their practices. When companies better understand the consequences behind their actions, they are in a more-informed position to make business decisions to reduce their environmental footprint. These decisions can be better for business and better for the planet, and can include preventative maintenance on equipment, promoting energy efficiency in factories, reducing risks to worker health and safety, reduced animal testing, and using recyclable packaging materials.

The collective effort of manufacturers to reduce sustainability risks in oral care products not only helps the planet, but also helps their businesses run more efficiently and with fewer risks.

Interest in sustainable products, and brand loyalty shown the companies and businesses that produce them, is at an all-time high. Consumers have shown they care about sustainability. Businesses should too.

Dr. Christopher Helt, Manager of Technical Development, The Sustainability Consortium, [email protected]

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