When we think of ways we can help the environment, recycling will be one of the first things that comes to mind. This is especially true in the case of paper products. Paper and cardboard are some of the most commonly recycled materials in the UK with about 80% of all paper material eventually recycled for reuse.
Recycled paper can find a second life as newspaper, cardboard, and, you guessed it, toilet rolls. But is a recycled loo roll always a more sustainable loo roll? The picture is a bit more complicated than you might imagine, so here’s some answers to common questions about recycled toilet paper.
Is it worth buying recycled toilet paper?
Whether a product is worth buying depends on price, effectiveness, and, for eco-conscious shoppers, how sustainable it is.
Recycled toilet roll has the first two points covered. In most cases recycled products will be the same price as alternatives, so switching won’t impact your budget. And recycling is particularly suitable for tissue production. Because it is composed of materials that have been repeatedly processed, recycled tissue will often be very soft and break down easily. So it’s gentle and absorbent for everyday use, and it will disintegrate normally in your drains.
The question of sustainability is more complex, and a lot depends on how the toilet roll is manufactured. It’s all well and good starting with sustainable materials, but these don’t benefit our environment if the final products are manufactured using outdated, polluting methods. At Naked Sprout we’ve worked hard to create an innovative and truly sustainable manufacturing process, making rolls using solar, wind, and hydro energy that is generated on site at our factory. You can see more information about our process here, or read on for more detail!
Is recycled toilet paper better for the environment?
It’s shocking to think that most toilet paper is still made from virgin tree pulp. As recently as 2019 researchers found that the percentage of recycled material in major UK toilet roll brands was actually decreasing. This means more intensive forestry and more trees cut down to provide the material for the 127 toilet rolls the average UK person flushes every year.
We wanted to see this change. In 2020 we launched Naked Sprout with toilet rolls made from bamboo, a resource that is naturally much more renewable than trees and can actually help restore land that has been degraded by intensive forestry.
But recycling also has a role to play. Our packaging and cardboard have always been made from recycled materials, and in 2023 we have launched a recycled toilet roll as well.
In terms of sustainability, there are some differences between bamboo and recycled toilet roll. Although our bamboo comes from further away, recycled material actually has more transport emissions, because it is sourced from many locations requiring multiple trips by truck, rather than just one by sea. But expanding our use of recycled material allows us to make better use of material that would otherwise be wasted, and it also supports chains of reuse and recycling that will serve us into the future.
Of course, getting the raw material to the factory is only part of the equation. In order to really see the environmental benefits of recycling it’s important to ensure sustainability in manufacturing as well. At Naked Sprout our B Corp certified factory generates its own energy on site, and we don’t add any bleach or harsh chemicals to our products. Our innovative process results in recycled rolls that are as sustainable as they can possibly be, with greenhouse gas emissions so low we don’t have to rely on offsetting.
Which toilet paper is recycled?
This is a great question; with all the green packaging, pictures of trees, and logos of environmental organisations it’s not always easy to tell which products are actually made from recycled material and which just look like they are!
A pack of toilet rolls will typically consist of outer packaging made of plastic, paper, or cardboard, the tissue itself, and cardboard inner rolls. Some companies will also include an additional layer of paper wrapping around the rolls. It’s common for some of these elements to be recycled, but not all of them.
One way to check is to look at the product description you can find on websites, and on packs of toilet rolls. Brands know that recycled materials are a selling point for many consumers, and they will list the parts of the products that are recycled.
Just to be clear, at Naked Sprout, everything that is not bamboo is made from recycled paper or card. So that’s the boxes your toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, and tissues come in, the inner cores on our bamboo toilet rolls and kitchen rolls, and every part of our recycled products.
Which is the most ethical toilet paper?
We believe it’s Naked Sprout. Naked Sprout toilet paper is made with 100% renewable energy, generated on-site by a B Corp certified factory, with a living wage for everyone who makes our products. We don’t use bleach or harsh chemicals in any of our products, and we don’t need to rely on offsetting to keep our emissions low.
It’s important to us that we’re leading the way here, because that’s how we push for change. We’re delighted to see more unbleached rolls, made from more sustainable materials, coming on the market. We also want to see more brands pushing for truly sustainable recycled options, by changing the way their toilet rolls are actually made, regardless of their starting material.
We don’t think it’s too much to expect, and we will keep working to make sure our rolls are as sustainable as they can possibly be, and encourage others to do the same.
Shop Naked Sprout Toilet Roll here
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