How Do Electric Toothbrushes Damage The Environment?

How long does it take for a toothbrush to decompose....

This year has caused all of us to reflect on where we went wrong. Climate change is becoming more critical and dangerous for individuals, and it is affecting us at the most vulnerable stages of our lives. Following the coronavirus outbreak, we were hit hard by wildlife fires, cyclones, earthquakes, and floods.

Toothbrushes are one of the most widely used items in the world. The first thing you do when you wake up is to freshen up and to do so, you take your toothbrush and brush your teeth. When it comes to the influence on the environment or associated human health, buying a toothbrush involves very little thought. When compared to conventional toothbrushes, new research has discovered that electric toothbrushes are the least environmentally friendly.

Researchers at Trinity University investigated the long-term viability of several toothbrushes, finding that electric toothbrushes did not farewell. Most of the time, you may not give your toothbrush much thought, but Trinity College Dublin (TCD) researchers have teamed up with the Eastman Dental Institute at University College London to examine how it affects the environment. The researchers published their findings in the British Dental Journal, claiming it was the first lifecycle assessment to analyse the environmental impacts of a healthcare product.

For better dental hygiene, electric toothbrushes are frequently advised by dentists. Brushing your teeth and gums with an electric toothbrush is a quick and easy way to keep them clean and healthy. However, they are more expensive than a traditional toothbrush, and replacing brush heads can be costly as well. Apart from being expensive yet useful, they are a curse for the environment.

Healthcare is a major source of environmental pollutants that harm people’s health, but both the industry and the general public are unaware of these consequences. Currently, there is little evidence or guidance on the long-term viability of specific healthcare procedures, services, or devices.

Researchers looked at alternative toothbrush production models and calculated the toothbrush’s environmental impact (carbon footprint) and human health impact (DALYs). The bamboo brush, electric toothbrush, normal plastic brush, and the plastic brush with replacement head were all used. The researchers discovered that using an electric toothbrush was comparatively damaging to the planet’s health.

The findings emphasise the toothbrush manufacturing process’s negative impact on human health. The electric toothbrush causes 10 hours of disability, assessed in Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), primarily for those involved in the production and manufacturing of the devices. This is five times the amount of a standard plastic brush.

The researchers determined that, contrary to conventional belief, the most environmentally sustainable toothbrush was a hypothetical continuously recycled plastic toothbrush. In every environmental effect outcome measure utilized in this study, a plastic manual changeable head toothbrush and a bamboo manual toothbrush performed better than typical plastic manual and electric toothbrushes. Individual consumer choices, oral health advice, toothbrush procurement for public health programmes, and toothbrush manufacturers could all benefit from these findings.

Why are electric toothbrushes bad for the environment?

How long does it take for a toothbrush to decompose.....

As stated earlier, electric toothbrushes are the worst when it comes to being a sustainable choice. According to the study, the electric toothbrush has 11 times the climate change potential of the bamboo toothbrush.

Electric toothbrushes are often manufactured of plastic and rubber as well, but they also require batteries, which, if not properly disposed of, can cause serious environmental damage. Even rechargeable batteries eventually need to be changed, and these batteries are frequently thrown away in landfills, where the battery acid spills into neighbouring oceans and waterways, endangering wildlife, and the environment.

Are electric brushes environmentally friendly?

They aren’t, no. Electric toothbrush heads and handles, if not recycled properly, wind up in the garbage and eventually in the landfill every time you replace the head or handle. They have one of the most hazardous effects on climate change.

What is the environmental impact of electric toothbrushes?

Acidification, climate change, eutrophication, human health, land use, resource utilisation, and water shortage were among the various impact categories examined in the research study. The electric toothbrush was found to have the biggest environmental impact in 15 of the 16 categories studied, with the exception of water scarcity.

What are Electric Toothbrushes Made of?

The majority of electric toothbrushes are made of plastic. The handles are commonly made of polypropylene or polyethene, and the bristles on the toothbrush head are made of nylon-6. A rechargeable battery, commonly a nickel-cadmium battery, is also included. Polypropylene and polyethene are both recyclable. Brush bristles made of nylon-6 can be recycled as long as they are kept separate from other polymers. Unfortunately, there isn’t a zero-waste or plastic-free electric toothbrush on the market. 

Can Electric Toothbrushes be Recycled?

Can Electric Toothbrushes be Recycled

Because plastic waste is such a large and growing problem, simply throwing away old brushes does not seem like a good idea. But, in the United Kingdom, are electric toothbrushes recyclable? The answer is, thankfully, yes! You can recycle an old electric toothbrush, as well as any plugs or charging stations, along with many other electrical items. In the United Kingdom, there are various options for recycling an electric toothbrush.

Kerbside Collection

If you arrange for a kerbside collection, your local authorities may take small electrical goods such as electric toothbrushes. To do so, call your council and request that some small electricals be collected; then, on collection day, place the toothbrush, along with anything else you want to recycle, on top of or next to your bin. If you have several items to recycle, using your local council’s pickup service may be a suitable alternative.

Recycling Bring Sites

Electronics such as electric toothbrushes can be disposed of at some small recycling sites. To find the nearest bring sites to you, use the search tool. Because most sites won’t accept electric toothbrushes, you need to filter the results to only include places that allow electronics.

Recycling Centre

Another option for recycling your electric toothbrush is to take it to a recycling centre near you. Before you submit your electronic toothbrush, do a small research on what the recycling process is like. It is always advisable that you know where your used products are going for it to be an environmentally conscious choice.

Why is it important to recycle your electric toothbrush?

Electrical goods can have a huge impact on the environment and wildlife. When batteries are disposed of in landfills, toxic compounds can leak from them, contaminating the surrounding soil. So, if you want to maintain the planet a safe and healthy place to live for humans and animals, recycle as much as you can – even something as simple as an electric toothbrush!

How to choose an eco-friendly toothbrush?

How to choose an eco-friendly toothbrush

Many factors must be considered while selecting an eco-friendly toothbrush. There are currently a plethora of plastic-free and zero-waste items on the market. What should you check for in a toothbrush before deciding whether or not it’s safe to use?

  • Recyclable: The ideal toothbrush has a biodegradable head and handle. Those components, however, should be constructed of recyclable, BPA-free materials.
  • Type of battery: Instead of single-use batteries, use a toothbrush with a rechargeable battery. A rechargeable toothbrush is a possible alternative because we use our toothbrushes on a daily basis.
  • Brand: Buying from companies that practise zero-waste and environmental sustainability is ethical.
  • Chargeable: There will be no need for disposable batteries with rechargeable toothbrushes. This helps to maintain the planet clean and safe. It reduces waste.

Final Thoughts

Recent research shows that electric toothbrushes should be your last option if you want to make a greener choice. But you might also wonder how it can be possible that a rechargeable electric toothbrush is better than a plastic toothbrush. Well, it isn’t only about the consumer’s perspective that is considered but also the people associated with the manufacturing process. The electric toothbrush also resulted in 10 hours of disability, as assessed by Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), primarily for those involved with the device’s development and production. According to the study, this was five times greater than a regular plastic brush.