Environmentally aware teeth straightening – Making the planet smile
Have you ever thought about how many aligners it takes to transform a smile and if environmentally aware teeth straightening is possible?
While each treatment is different, we can tell you for sure that over the past 5 years, we have manufactured over 150,000 individual aligners! Not only is that a lot of material for the dental appliances themselves, but they each need to be carefully packaged, labelled, boxed, and shipped safely to you.
Most aligner companies use plastic bags to package their aligners, and plastic lined boxes to ship them in, which can take up to 450 years to degrade in a landfill. Even then, they don’t completely break down, but turn into toxin absorbing microplastics instead. We’re here to change that and are so proud to announce that in 2020, we thoroughly reviewed and upgraded our packaging and purchasing activities, opting for eco-friendly alternatives wherever possible – now you can reuse & recycle throughout your smile journey!
#1 Are invisible aligners recyclable?
Invisible aligners are medical devices, meaning they have to fulfil the highest material and production standards first and foremost. Some companies use a multi-layered material to create aligners, which is, in fact, not recyclable. In order to ensure each set is perfect for you AND has as little effect on the environment as possible, Straight Teeth Direct™ aligners are all made of a BPA-free plastic material that is recyclable providing it is clean and uncontaminated. We produce these at our very own aligner production facility & lab in the UK, but why is this important?
Other remote aligner companies outsource the creation of their custom devices to third-party aligner production facilities, meaning they themselves have little to no control over the material or production process. Not only can they not guarantee eco-friendly facility practices, but the aligners also have an extra shipment journey before heading off to the smile they were made for, adding to the carbon footprint, thus making them less environmentally aware teeth straightening options.
At Straight Teeth Direct™, all aligners are designed, produced and quality assessed by our own expert team of dentists, orthodontists and dental technicians, cutting out any potential third party hiccups and enabling us to maintain the highest possible standard for eco-friendly practices within our company. With regards to material, all your aligners are made of recyclable, BPA-free plastic material. Instead of throwing them away, however, we recommend you keep at least your last 6 sets of aligners in case you forget to wear your retainers after treatment. This way, you can get your smile back on track without needing to go back into treatment.
#2 Are pouches & grip-seal bags necessary to ship each aligner in?
As mentioned above, it’s important for each set of aligners to be packaged and labelled according to their respective treatment stage, which is why individual pouches are quite essential. Plastic pouches are very easy to source and also very cheap, so you would understand why almost all remote aligner companies use them. However, easy doesn’t always mean right, so at Straight Teeth Direct™ we feel that investing in eco-friendly pouches and grip-seal bags is not only correct, but also much more beneficial in the long run.
We are so proud to have sourced new biodegradable pouches that can be decomposed by microorganisms! All you need to do is add them to your biowaste or residual waste bin, and they will be correctly disposed of. Furthermore, to ensure your products don’t fall about inside their packaging and stay hygienic, grip seal bags are the most practical option. However, they are also usually made of – you guessed it – plastic. Luckily, we have also been able to source grip-seal bags that are eco-friendly! We’re particularly excited about the fact that investing in these new, eco-friendly packaging options supports the sustainable packaging industry to continue researching and growing for a greener future.
#3 Reuse and recycle your boxes & envelopes!
Many of our users have told us they like to use their old SmileBoxes and StraightBoxes to store either their aligner accessories in, or for their old aligners (in case they ever need to use the last few again post-treatment). Our boxes are made of high quality cardboard and are just perfect for storage, but if you want to dispose of them, just add them to the respective cardboard packaging bin.
Last but not least, our return envelopes are even more impressive, if we do say so ourselves: 100% recyclable, biodegradable, compostable and plastic-free! If that doesn’t make you and the planet smile, we don’t know what will…
#4 Teledentistry can reduce environmental impact
Apart from being extremely convenient for the user, remote orthodontic treatment is actually also incredibly effective in reducing PPE and carbon emissions! The faster, more streamlined and affordable treatment monitoring via the app platform enables our dentists to guide users through their entire journey without the need to use dozens of protective gloves, masks and other equipment every day, meaning we are able to drastically reduce plastic and medical waste production in comparison with in-clinic providers.
Not only that, but traditional orthodontic treatment also requires patients to travel to and from clinics, with multiple trips needed to capture impressions, fit new aligners, monitor progress and resolve any unforeseen issues – all in separate visits. Our solution addresses each of these steps remotely thanks to the app-based support and monitoring platform. To put this into numbers, we estimate that we were able to save around 34,672 trips to the dentist clinic, saving a total of around 53,311 kg of CO2!
#5 Eco-friendly aligner treatment tips
So, you’ve found a remote aligner company that you trust and that has a strong eco-friendly company policy – but did you know there are a few eco-friendly habits you can adopt throughout your teeth straightening journey?
Use a bamboo toothbrush for brushing on the go (did you know that every plastic toothbrush produced since the early 1900s still exists today?)
Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth and between rinsing your aligners to save water
If you live near a DHL drop-off location, consider returning your impressions this way rather than scheduling a van pick-up
Inform yourself on correct local recycling and waste practices – bins differ from region to region!
To continue doing our part and progress in more sustainable practices for remote aligner treatment, we have also established corporate campaigns and events related to sustainability, all forming part of this work in progress that we are highly committed to continue working on! With reusable cardboard boxes, biodegradable pouches and grip-seal bags, and recyclable aligners, we hope to lead the way to more sustainable processes in the orthodontic field and environmentally aware teeth straightening.
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