Recycle and smile

Initiative aims to avoid Scotland’s pioneering oral health programme going to waste

14 June, 2023 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

National Services Scotland (NSS) and Childsmile have joined forces to launch Recycle and Smile – a new initiative which will recycle toothbrushes and empty toothpaste tubes used as part of Childsmile’s supervised toothbrushing programme. 

NSS distributes toothbrushes and toothpaste to Childsmile, the national programme to improve children’s oral health and tackle oral health inequalities. More than one million toothbrushes and 178,000 tubes of toothpaste are used each year as part of Childsmile’s supervised toothbrushing programme
in schools and nurseries across Scotland.

Currently, there is no consistent way of recycling these items – but Recycle and Smile is set to change this; Childsmile professionals will take the programme’s used toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes to the local Public Dental Service collection site.

NSS’s recycling partner will collect the used items and break the plastic down into small chips and, once sterilised, it will be ready to be recycled into items such as vehicle parts, garden planters and playground equipment. 

Recycle and Smile has been running as a pilot in Highland, Ayrshire & Arran, Borders, Orkney and Greater Glasgow & Clyde from April. It will be rolled out to all health board areas across Scotland later this year.

Paul Cushley, Director of Dentistry, NSS, said: “Like all health boards across the country, sustainability is high on our agenda as we work towards our ambition of becoming a net zero organisation by 2040.  

“Given our role in Scotland’s NHS, NSS is uniquely positioned to support NHS Scotland and the wider health and social care sector to embed sustainability in everyday practice. This is an excellent circular economy initiative which ensures products used as part of vital public health programmes are given another lease of life.” 

Peter King, Childsmile Programme Manager said: “Childsmile is committed to improving the oral health of children in Scotland and reducing inequalities. Ensuring that our practices are as sustainable as possible is very important to us and this is such a simple way to make a difference.

“Nurseries, schools and Childsmile teams across the country are vital to this programme’s success. Recycling all this plastic will contribute to a cleaner, greener and more sustainable Scotland — and that’s certainly something to smile about.” 

For more information about Childsmile visit and watch an animation/infographic here:

Tags: ChildSmile

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