Toilet Paper Makers Aren't Producing A Lot of Green Products

New research finds that the major toilet paper brands aren't producing as much green paper as they did back in 2011.
Donna Fuscaldo
Toilet paper on a roll in a bathroommapichai/iStock

The UK and U.S. top the charts when it comes to toilet paper consumed, with residents in Britan using 127 rolls per capita alone. 

That is creating a lot of waste--given toilet paper is one of those things you use for a second and then toss--and contributing to deforestation.


Most major tissue brands use virgin wood pulp to make toilet paper, resulting in large areas of natural forest being cut down. Ethical Consumer pointed to February report that found between 1996 and 2015 more than 28 million acres of the Candian boreal forest was cut down to produce toilet paper. 

"Around a quarter of the carbon dioxide contributed by humans to the atmosphere is removed by the world’s forests. Maintaining forests and other natural habitats is, therefore, an essential means of fighting climate change," the group said.

Despite the Impact Major Brands Aren't Focused on Recycled Toliet Paper 

Despite the impact on the environment, a report by Ethical Consumer found there is a decline in the use of recycled paper by the major toilet paper brands. While Ethical Consumer said that most of the major brands including Andrex, Cushelle produce toilet paper that has the Forest Stewardship Council stamp, toilet paper made with virgin wood pulp, even if its FSC certified, isn't considered a sustainable product. 

"Despite the negative environmental impacts of using virgin tree fibre, only five brands in our guide did not use any virgin pulp at all for their toilet paper: Ecoleaf, Essential, The Cheeky Panda, Who Gives A Crap, and Traidcraft. Of the major brands and supermarkets, only five currently offered a recycled range: Co-op, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco," Ethical Consumer said in a toilet paper buying guide.

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"It appears that use of recycled fibre has declined over the years. If we take Kimberly-Clark, one of the biggest suppliers of toilet tissue worldwide, we see that the proportion of recycled wood pulp, as opposed to virgin wood pulp, used by the company has fallen over the years. In 2011, just under 30% of total fibre used was from recycled fibre, but by 2017 this figure had fallen to just over 23.5%."

Luxury Toliet Paper to Blame? 

The group pointed out that in 2015 Kimberly Clark discontinued its Eco Bath Tissue brand, with a spokesperson telling Ethical Consumer the company got rid of the line because of a lack of demand at the time.  While Ethical Consumer said it's hard to ascertain exactly why there has been a decline in eco-friendly toilet paper, it did point to growing demand for luxury toilet paper as one of the reasons. 

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