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Childsmile toothbrush recycling scheme pilot launches

NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) and Childsmile have joined forces to launch Recycle and Smile

Published on 03 April 2023

Childsmile illustrative graphic

NHS 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.  

Over 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, however, Recycle and Smile is set to change this.

The new process is simple and easy for everyone involved. Childsmile professionals will take the programme’s used toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes to the local Public Dental Service collection site.  

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

Recycle and Smile will initially run 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