Recycline

Eric Hudson’s dentist always told him he needed to hold his toothbrush at a 45-degree angle when cleaning his teeth, but Hudson hadn’t found a brush shaped to encourage that positioning. By using boiling water to soften conventional toothbrushes, he was able to bend them into a shape he found more comfortable—and that dental professionals praised. In 1996, Hudson combined his dental-hygiene interest with his environmental dedication and business expertise when he founded Recycline, which manufactures toothbrushes made from recycled plastic.

“I saw that around 45 percent of the population was interested in recycling, but there wasn’t a lot of action turning recycled materials into new products,” Hudson explains. “I wanted to show that you can make high-quality products from recycled materials.” And he wanted to ensure that the products he made were, in turn, recyclable.

His interest in brushing technique wasn’t the only thing that made toothbrushes a good choice for his company’s first product, either; toothbrushes are something that people need to keep buying and discarding (the American Dental Association recommends replacing them every three months).

In collaboration with his industrial-designer father and a panel of dentists, Hudson designed the Preserve® toothbrush, with nylon bristles and a 100-percent- recycled plastic handle.

“The Preserve® curve of the handle helps you brush at the 45-degree angle most comfortably throughout your mouth,” Hudson explains of its patented design. The brushes come with (or you can request) postage-paid mailers, and the company recycles returned toothbrushes into plastic lumber for park benches and other outdoor furniture.

Over the past decade, Recycline has launched a partnership with Stonyfield Farms, whose yogurt containers are recycled into plastics for Recycline products—a line that has grown to include a razor, tongue cleaner, children’s toothbrush, and, most recently, plates and cutlery. These products are all made of 100-percent recycled plastic, and everything except the toothbrushes can go directly into #5 recycling bins (though Hudson prefers that razor users simply replace their blades). Recycline also introduced a toothbrush subscription program, in which subscribers receive new toothbrushes in the mail four times a year and send their old ones to be recycled once again.

—Liz Borkowski