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Does Your Toothbrush Make the Environment Bristle?

Consumers are demanding more sustainable oral care products. As a result, The Sustainability Consortium is giving them information on which products are sustainable, and which ones aren’t.


Dr. Christopher Helt

Manager of Technical Development, The Sustainability Consortium

Oral care products include many types of products consumers use on a daily basis; whether it be for oral hygiene, teeth whitening or breath freshening. And yet despite the heavy usage, most people do not stop to consider the impact they 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. There’s the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, excessive water use in factories as well as harmful packaging; this can clog up landfills. Additionally, oral care products may contain ingredients derived from palm oil. The production of this 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. Additionally, they can:

  • Include preventative maintenance on equipment
  • Promoting energy efficiency in factories
  • Reducing risks to worker health and safety
  • Reduce animal testing
  • Use recyclable packaging materials.

The collective effort of manufacturers to reduce sustainability risks in oral care products helps the planet and their businesses run more efficiently and with fewer risks.

The importance of sustainable oral care products

There is a tidal wave of consumer interest in purchasing sustainable products and brand loyalty around companies and businesses that have a sustainability focus. Consumers care about sustainability. Businesses should too.

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