All TePe’s products and solutions are developed based on clinical knowledge and in collaboration with dental professionals. Our responsibility for people, health and the environment is considered throughout the innovation process.
We closely follow the progress of eco-friendly technologies and sustainable product and packaging materials, maintaining dialogue with suppliers and business partners and continuously work to reduce our direct and indirect carbon footprint. Some of our commitments have already implemented into our production process, while others are ambitions for our journey ahead.
We are convinced that plastics has its place in our modern society, though with a different approach than today. Renewable plastics is one way to go when it comes to rethinking plastics. It comes in different forms, but it is important to be aware of their difference regarding purpose and sources used.
Recycled plastic is useful in many cases, for example, in packaging materials, but it can be problematic in products for oral use. Strict regulations dictate 100% control over product contents by the manufacturer, especially regarding plastic that comes into contact with food or is used in the mouth. If the recycled plastic comes from different sources, it may contain hazardous chemicals. A varying standard of plastic can also affect product quality which, of course, is unacceptable.
Biodegradable plastic can either be biobased or made from fossil matter. It can be converted to organic matter in weeks; however, this takes place through a controlled, industrial process under the right conditions. Decomposition in nature or a home compost heap may take decades, if it happens at all. Biodegradable plastic is often used in certain kinds of food packaging, or for agricultural and medical use (for example, sutures and capsules).
Biobased plastic is made from plants or other biological matter, cellulose, castor oil plant, or sugar cane. At present, there is a large focus on shifting from fossil-based to biobased plastic in order to obtain a renewable source, and in most cases not all, generate a smaller footprint. Therefore, producers must assess the life cycle of the materials in their decision-making. To be able to fulfil our aim of shifting to renewable materials, we are continuously looking for sustainable sourcing solutions, and these may vary. One solution is biobased polyethene sourced from sugar cane, which has a near negligible footprint. The vision of a circular economy for plastics includes the use of renewable energy in production. Since all our products are manufactured using renewable energy, no emissions are released during the process. Our high product quality allows for optimal and extended use, prolonging the life of the product, which contributes to less waste.
The Mass balance method
One way of significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the plastic is to use the mass balance method. It means that fossil raw material will be replaced by fossil-free oils in an existing system. We have chosen material suppliers using this method for our sustainable TePe Interdental Brush handles. The fossil-free oil used is called tall oil, which is a waste product from the forest industry. Without compromising on product quality, efficiency or design, we have lowered the carbon footprint of the product by 80%. To ensure full traceability of the material and its sources, both TePe and our suppliers are certified by ISCC.
The issues surrounding plastic pollution call for the necessary creation of a circular economy for plastic. One of the biggest challenges is finding solutions for product end of life. We engage in constant dialogue with our suppliers in order to develop innovative solutions with a goal of improving the sustainability of our products and packaging.