- Mostly common chemical ingredients
- Sweeteners should be readily biodegradable
- Known sources of palm oil
- Tube not easily recyclable
- Contains vitamin E
- Exact flavouring chemicals unclear
Dr Bronner’s is a family owned and run company that is dedicated to promoting and advancing positive social change. The company is best known for their castile soap.
The main ingredient in their All-One Anise Toothpaste is glycerin. This ingredient is not toxic to aquatic life and is readily biodegradable. However, it is derived from a vegetable oil, such as palm oil. Dr Bronner’s has established a sister company to manage sourcing ingredients including palm oil. This company has a large focus on fair trade. While environmental benefits are mentioned, it is not clear how well this company performs on environmental criteria compared to RSPO certified palm oil sources. That said, knowing the source and supply chain is a good thing.
Most toothpastes contain silica, and this one is no exception. Silica is very common in the environment and release to waste water should have a low environmental impact. But silica is commonly obtained from sand, which is mined. Sand mines can cause erosion and habitat degradation, and are often unregulated. It would be good to have more information on where the silica in this product comes from, but companies very rarely provide (or even have) this information.
Most of the ingredients are chemically simple and common. They should have minimal aquatic toxicity concerns and the chemicals that can be degraded should be readily biodegradable. However, a few of the ingredients have some toxicity to aquatic life. For example, potassium cocoate is toxic to aquatic life, but is also readily biodegradable. This means that most of these chemicals should break down during waste water treatment, but some will still be released to the environment in treated waste water.
Tocopherol (Vitamin E) is also included in this product. It is harmful to aquatic life, but is not readily biodegradable. This means a larger amount could be released to the environment. However, it is known to be ultimately biodegradable, which means it will eventually break down in the environment.
One of the flavouring ingredients is menthol. This chemical is harmful to aquatic life, but also readily biodegradable. Other flavouring ingredients and sweeteners are anise seed oil and stevia. There is less information available for these chemicals, but because they are natural extracts, they are less likely to be chemicals of highest concern. Based on what is available, it looks like stevia is readily biodegradable. This is good, because some sweeteners are becoming a significant pollution problem as they do not degrade well.
The packaging for this product could be better. The cardboard box can easily be recycled. However, 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: Millie Melissa B