Our Company, Sustainability

The Lifecycle of Your Cocobrush

How we make and recycle the world’s most blissfully effective toothbrush.

Our ultra-cleansing Cocobrush has stories to tell about where it came from and where it’s going. (It’s one super-smart, confident toothbrush.) Let’s call this post a “toothbrush tell-all.”   

First, here’s a shocking stat: Only 9 percent of the world’s plastic is recycled. 

The rest? Some plastic gets incinerated or goes into the landfill. Lots goes into the ocean — at the rate of a dump truck–full a minute.

We need to make a change. It’s not too late

Cocofloss is a small company, but we’re dedicated to making big changes to our luxurious oral-care products so they are better for our environment. For one, the entire Cocofloss rainbow is now spun from ~85% recycled water bottles.

With the handle of our super-soft Cocobrush, made of recycled ocean-bound plastic, we’re diving even deeper into using top-quality recycled materials that are good for you and good for the Earth. 

Here’s the thing: Recycling plastic not only cuts down on waste in landfills, it also lowers the release of greenhouse gases and cuts the consumption of fossil fuels and energy.  But how does discarded, ocean-bound plastic become the sleek, ultra-soft Cocobrush that keeps your smile sparkling?

illo of fish swimming above a coral reef

What’s Ocean-Bound Plastic?

Let’s define an important term first.

Cocobrush’s handle is made of ~95% ocean-bound plastic. But what is that? 

“Ocean-bound” is a term for plastic collected from communities located within 31 miles (50 kms) of the ocean that have no formal waste-management system. It’s more likely that this plastic would become part of the 8 million metric tons of waste that end up in our oceans each year.

Using recycled ocean-bound plastic diverts waste away from the waterstream, where it can break into tiny pieces that hurt wildlife. Plastic that hasn’t yet entered the ocean or been exposed to extensive sunlight is also higher quality because it hasn’t been degraded by the elements.

BTW, pioneering waste engineer Professor Jenna Jambeck, Ph.D., from the University of Georgia, first popularized the “ocean-bound” label in 2015 so people can better address this global marine-pollution problem. (Thank you, Professor! 🙏🏽)

Why Not Bioplastics or Bamboo?

At Cocofloss, we also looked into using bioplastics, which look and feel like plastic but have a different chemical composition. Due to their similarities in appearance, most current recycling schemes do not have the technological capacity to distinguish between bioplastic and plastics — which only contributes to the 91 percent of plastic that doesn’t get recycled.  

We thought about bamboo too. Bamboo is commonly used in other eco-conscious toothbrush designs, but the wooden material didn’t allow for ergonomic design. It’s important for your brush to be ergonomic so it can be super-effective at cleaning those hard-to-reach, tartar-prone areas.

Instead, we’ve chosen to take already-made, high-quality plastic, and give it a new life as a Cocobrush. 

“Our toothbrushes are helping to keep plastics out of the ocean and giving plastic a second life,” Cocofloss co-founder, Cat Cu, explains. “And we hope that by paying the premium for recycled plastics, we can help to incentivize much-needed investment in global recycling infrastructure.” 

Illustrated image of the Cocobrush detailing its benefits

Savings Seas and Energy

Using ocean-bound plastic has a sea of benefits beyond cleaning up marine environments. 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, recycling plastic uses 66 percent less energy than making plastic using virgin materials. 

In 2022, by making Cocobrush handles with recycled ocean-bound plastic instead of non-recycled plastic, we expect to save 6,804 kilowatt-hours of energy, 807 gallons of oil, and 954 cubic feet of landfill space. We’ll also avoid emitting 5,184 kilograms of CO2.

Here’s something else to ponder while you pamper your pearly whites: For every Cocobrush purchased, we pledge to remove an additional 10 Cocobrushes’ worth of ocean-bound plastic from the environment.

In 2022, we aim to remove about 28,000 pound of trash from our coasts, thanks to the production of Cocobrush handles and these extra clean-up efforts.

Every Cocobrush you buy helps set off a wave of change.

How Is the Cocobrush Made?

To make the Cocobrush, we’ve partnered with Oceanworks to source ocean-bound plastic. Founded in 2016, Oceanworks connects eco-minded businesses with suppliers of recycled materials. (We love that they got their start making stylish, surfer-style sunglasses! 😎)  

Oceanworks guarantees international standards for social and environmental responsibility, authentic sources for materials, and a transparent supply chain — so you can be sure your Cocobrush’s coral reef–bright handle is truly made from ocean-bound plastic. 

Here’s how the process works:

1. An Oceanworks-certified supplier collects ocean-bound polypropylene plastic (aka plastic #5) found near the coast in Asia. 

2. After collection, plastics are brought to the processing plant, where they are cleansed, decontaminated, and transformed into pellet form through a patented, chemical-free process.  

3. These baby pellets make their way to the manufacturer to become your sleek little Cocobrush, designed with an ergonomic handle and angled brush-head to reach all the nooks and crannies of your mouth.

How to Recycle Your Cocobrush

After about three to four months, it’s time to refresh your Cocobrush with a new one. But don’t toss your teeth’s former BFF! Instead, recycle it!  

Polypropylene is a hardy plastic that can be recycled hundreds of times if it reaches the right recycling schemes. Although most local recycling programs accept polypropylene, they do not have the technology to sort plastics very well. This problem has led to a breakdown in the U.S. recycling system. A lot of plastic ends up incinerated or being dumped in the landfill or worse.

That’s where you come in. You have two possible ways to help your brush find its plastic kin.

Recycling Option #1: Recycle Through Your Local Recycling Program 

1. Double-check that your local recycling program accepts polypropylene (plastic #5). You may need to call your local waste-management company to confirm.

2. Once you’ve confirmed recycling eligibility, use a pair of garden shears to cut off the brush-head (containing the polyester bristles).

3. Toss the handle into your recycling bin and toss the brush head into your trash bin. 

Recycling Option #2: Recycle Through Terracycle 

Check out the free national oral-care recycling programs on Terracycle. There may be a local drop-off location for your old brushes, bristles and all. You can also mail-in your brushes to be recycled through one of these programs.

Sparkling Smiles, Sparkling Seas

Thanks so much for caring enough to join our beach and smile clean-up! By brushing with our super-luxe toothbrush, you’re maintaining sparkling seas with your sparkling smile.  

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