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News Europe

Millions of toothbrushes end up in the trash every year. The new compostable toothbrush is an environmentally friendly alternative. (DTI/Photo courtesy of Zahoransky AG, Germany)
Mar 29, 2012 | News Europe

German manufacturer produces compostable toothbrush

by Dental Tribune International

ROTHENKIRCHEN, Germany: Engineers have developed a cardboard toothbrush that could replace not only disposable toothbrushes in hotels and aeroplanes but also conventional household toothbrushes. The materials used in manufacturing this toothbrush are bio-based, renewable and fully recyclable.

According to the German Federal Environmental Agency, experts agree that plastic products decompose extremely slowly. Depending on environmental conditions, they estimate that plastic bags, for instance, take up to 500 years to decompose.

In a collaborative research project, the Zahoransky engineering corporation and the West Saxon University of Applied Sciences of Zwickau developed an innovative injection-moulding process, which made it possible to produce a toothbrush using renewable raw materials. This invention could be an alternative to disposable toothbrushes, which are also given regularly to patients at dental practices.

According to Zahoransky, the new toothbrush is manufactured from a biodegradable, fibre-filled composite, which is made by first pressing waste paper fibre into free-flowing bulk solids and thereafter processing the solids into injectable granulate using a biopolymer matrix.

Given the rising oil price, which affects the price of synthetic oil-based plastics, and increasing public awareness of ecologically safe products and processes, the designers wanted to create a disposable toothbrush that is environmentally friendly at the same time. The production of the newly developed toothbrush does not involve any fossil fuel because it is made solely from bio-based synthetic materials. After use, the toothbrush can be disposed of in the composting bin.

The innovative product will be presented in May for the first time at the Interbrush 2012 tradeshow in Freiburg, which is one of the most important trade fairs for machinery and tools in the international brush industry.

According to Eurostat, almost 15 million tons of plastic waste were produced in 2008 by all areas of industry and households in the 27 member states of the European Union, which amounts to 30 tons per capita per year. They estimate that approximately 700 million toothbrushes were purchased between January and December 2010 in the EU.

The Zahoransky Group is a supplier of injection-moulding tools, automated solutions, final packaging machines, as well as tufting and shearing machines for brushes and brooms.

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