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Is recycled toilet paper better for the environment?

May 24, 2022

Toilet paper is one of the world’s biggest influences on the environment. Traditional loo roll relies on essential natural resources as its main raw material, while also involving harmful chemicals in the bleaching process that gives it the bright white colour we associate it with.

The US is the world’s leader in toilet paper consumption, and in America alone nearly 50 billion rolls of toilet paper are used in total every year. More than 27,000 trees are cut down every single day, exclusively to meet the current demand for toilet paper, a figure which is simply not sustainable, particularly when you consider that these trees play such a vital role in absorbing and retaining carbon. 

With this impact well documented, there is no question that to meet the increasingly urgent need to modify our global behaviour in order to avert a climate disaster, the world will need to adopt an alternative option to traditional toilet roll.

So how can the toilet paper we use be made to have a lesser impact on the environment? And how much of a difference does it make to use more environmentally friendly toilet paper compared to traditional toilet roll?

Over recent years, bamboo toilet paper has been proposed as a completely tree-free toilet paper alternative. While this is very true, bamboo is obviously still a natural resource that we rely on our planet for and bamboo toilet paper is manufactured in much the same way as regular toilet paper, with the plant reduced into fibres to create a pulp which is pressed and dried to create tissue paper as we know it.

What is particularly special about bamboo is the speed at which it grows, making it much easier to farm and reduce the requirement for largescale deforestation. Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant in the world and it is also incredible adaptable, which means it is able to grow effectively in a number of different habitats. To put this into context, in just one hour a bamboo plant can achieve the same level of growth as an average conifer tree might see in a whole year.

In contrast to bamboo toilet paper, recycled toilet paper doesn’t rely on trees or plant products for its manufacture, as the base material in production is pre-used paper that can be saved from our rubbish. It is estimated that recycled toilet paper produces at least 30% less carbon emissions when compared to manufacturing processes for traditional loo roll. This figure is calculated by comparing the much lower levels of water and energy that is required in the production of recycled toilet paper, which sees a very significant reduction in air and water pollution.

The method for making recycled toilet paper actually remains quite similar to traditional toilet paper. It begins by soaking fragments of paper in water before aerating the pulp to cleanse the mixture of ink and contaminants before the paper is then pressed and dried. However, using recycled paper as the base material in this process uses much less water and energy.

Of course, the production process is only part of the story when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and the environmental impact of the toilet paper you choose. Honest Supplies is a sustainable business which manufactures eco toilet paper here in the UK. Recycled toilet paper produced closer to home, than the likes can be even better for the environment, reducing the impact that might be caused by transporting the products or raw materials long distances.

All of the team at Honest Supplies are passionate about sustainability and helping consumers make ethical choices that are also easy to access and offer great value. It is by us all making small changes together that we can make a big change for our planet. Using UK-made, eco-friendly toilet paper that is both plastic-free and sustainable is one of those small changes.