- Mostly common chemical ingredients
- No obvious palm oil derivatives
- Foaming agent is less toxic to aquatic life than some alternatives
- Tube not easily recyclable
- Contains saccharin
- Flavouring chemicals not provided
Colgate is an oral care brand owned by the Colgate-Palmolive company. They value continuous improvement and using technology to improve quality of life for their customers.
The main ingredients in their Cavity Protection Toothpaste, aside from water, are a calcium phosphate and sorbitol. These ingredients are chemically simple. Sorbitol should be readily biodegraded and not toxic to aquatic life.
Compared to other toothpastes, this product contains a lot of phosphate based ingredients. Phosphate is food for algae, so high levels in waterways can lead to algae blooms. A lot of oxygen is taken out of the water when the algae die. This can suffocate fish and other aquatic life. Human waste contains a lot of phosphate, so the overall impact of phosphate in toothpaste will probably not be that high. That said, phasing out phosphate containing detergents in the 1970s significantly reduced the level of phosphate entering waterways.
This product also contains sodium lauryl sulfate, which is harmful to some types of aquatic life. However, the risk posed by the chemical is lowered because it is readily biodegradable. This means a large amount should break down during wastewater treatment, before it is released to the environment.
The flavouring chemicals are not provided. They could be chemicals of high concern – there’s no way to tell.
The sweetener is saccharin. Some sweeteners, including saccharin, are becoming widespread pollutants because they are not readily biodegradable. The results of studies indicate that saccharin is not toxic to aquatic life when they are exposed to it for a few days, but no tests have been done over longer time periods. Given the chemical is not readily biodegradable, and is becoming widespread in the environment, it would be good to see the results of some longer term studies.
The packaging for this product could be better. The outer cardboard carton is easily recyclable. But toothpaste tubes are notorious for being unable to be easily recycled, and unfortunately there are currently few alternatives. The tube can be sent to Terracycle for recycling in a number of countries, but something that could be popped in kerbside recycling would be best.
But does it work?
Considering how well a product works is a big factor in determining whether a product is a good one or not. A product that does not work is a waste.
Image credit: Colgate