Many people try squeezing every last bit out of products they use. Who hasn’t rolled up a tube of toothpaste in order to get out the last drop? As a woman proclaimed in a Consumer Reports video, “It’s the philosophy of just not being wasteful.” In order to determine how much product does not come out, Consumer Reports conducted tests. A total of 22 products were tested, including glass cleaners, lotions, liquid detergents, and toothpaste. The tests found out that lotions were the hardest to empty, and pump bottles leave 20 percent of the lotion behind. Glass cleaners delivered most of the product. Plastic squeeze tubes can trap 10 percent of the toothpaste.
Last fall, Consumer Reports conducted similar tests on skin lotions, liquid detergents, condiments, and toothpaste. Testers emptied a product “in the usual way,” and waited a couple of days for the remains to settle. Then they “pumped, poured, squeezed, shook, and tapped as much as any frugal but rational consumer might.” Lastly, the testers weighed what was left inside. The results revealed that skin lotions left the most product, about one-fifth of their total contents. Toothpaste left one to 13 percent behind. Colgate and Crest brands were used in the tests.
Colgate, on its website, brags that it is “always looking for ways to minimize the impact of its packaging on the environment.” The company touts its reduction of the “amount of material in its toothpaste tubes.” However, Colgate makes no mention of the amount of toothpaste left behind in the tubes it manufactures, or designing tubes that will not leave any product behind.
Enter Susan Bell, a British nurse who became frustrated by the difficulty her patients had in trying to squeeze every drop of toothpaste out. Bell founded Butterfly Technology in 2007 with her engineer husband William, and product designer Jonathan Jones. Together they created the “Squeeze with Ease” system, which is inserted in a plastic or laminate tube before it is sealed. It is pushed along the tube, “like a piston,” Bell said, and makes sure that all of the product is used.
The design, Bell said, would work for numerous products. “In pharmaceuticals alone, our device has the potential to offer millions of pounds worth of savings to the National Health Services (NHS).” The NHS is Britain’s government-run health services.
The Squeeze with Ease system, Bell admitted, adds a little bit of material which causes a packaging increase, but it causes less product waste. “If you use the product for longer, over time you use less new packaging and less product is thrown away,” she said. “Ideally, we’d also want the Squeeze with Ease component to be made from recycled material.”
Butterfly Technology’s website claims the Squeeze with Ease system eliminates the 10 to 15 percent waste left behind. It also claims the system allows manufacturers to reduce the overall volume in a tube up to 15 percent, the amount normally discarded by consumers because they are unable to squeeze it out.