Zero waste toilet paper UK

Zero waste toilet paper UK

In this article we are going to discuss and review zero waste toilet paper UK. According to the Confederation of Paper Industries, on average each person living in the UK will go through approximately 127 rolls of toilet paper each year. That’s equivalent to 1.3 million tonnes of tissue, 1.1 million tonnes of which has been imported from around the world. Although the UK is ranked as the worlds 80th largest country it is the third largest consumer of toilet roll worldwide. No wonder we want to ensure the paper we are using is as close to zero waste as possible.

Is toilet paper eco friendly?

Most of the UK’s conventional toilet paper is made from the pulp of trees that were once growing in virgin forests and tree farms. Although many brands in the paper industry do try to offset some of their waste by planting new tree’s many of these will only be made up of a single species. Which isn’t making up for the loss of the biodiversity the virgin forests provide for native animals and plants. To make toilet paper soft for the consumer long fibres are needed which don’t often survive during the recycling process. The need for soft toilet paper encourages the deforestation by the paper industry.

The manufacturing of toilet paper involves a variety of chemicals and a lot of water. Each roll of toilet paper also uses 37 gallons of water to make it. Some of which ends up polluting local water sources. Not to mention the plastic wrapping most conventional toilet paper gets put into.

Is recycled toilet paper eco friendly?

In order for toilet paper to be soft the fibres need to be long however if you are willing to give up the softness recycled fibres are a more eco friendly alternative. Softness won’t be the only thing to consider though as studies have confirmed that BPA has been found in a lot of recycled tissue paper. This is because the fibres used to make recycled toilet paper come from recycled household and office waste, not toilet paper. So, card receipts and other thermal print receipts which have the BPA present end up in your recycled product. 

How is toilet paper bad for the environment?

Zero waste toilet paper UK 1Toilet paper itself is not bad for the environment as it’s a natural product which is biodegradable. The manufacturing process to make this single use product however is very bad for the environment. Outlined below is the steps taken to make virgin pulp toilet paper which is made from both hardwood and softwood:
• Both Hardwood (approximately 70%) and softwood (approximately 30%) trees are stripped by a machine from all their bark. This bark usually gets burned to help power the paper mill.
• The stripped trees are then passed through a chipper and separated into 50-ton batches.
• For approximately 3 hours the batches of wood chips are put into a pressure cooker to cook with 10,000 gallons of cooking chemicals.
• During the cooking process the woodchips will lose about 50% of their yield in moisture. So, the mixture will reduce to approximately 25 tons of cellulose fibres, lignin and other substances. From this the usable fibres called pulp will account for about 15 tons. This means for every 50 tons of virgin wood cooked only 30% of it will result in the pulp needed to make the toilet tissue.
• After the pressure cooker the pulp goes through a washing system which removes most of the lignin and the cooking chemicals. It then needs to go through the chemical cleaning and bleaching process to ensure that the pulp fibres and any leftover lignin will not distort the required white paper tissue after production.
• At the pressing stage a large amount of water will be added to the pulp to produce paper stock. Just under 100,000 litres of water is needed per 1 tonne of fibre. This paper stock is then sprayed onto mesh screens, which get transferred to a heated cylinder for drying. The mesh screens allow the water to drain easily until it gets to the desired moisture level of about 5%.
• Metal blades are used to scrape the paper off the mesh screens. The paper is then wound onto jumbo reels which get loaded onto a machine which unwinds, slits and rewinds back onto cardboard tubing which will all know as toilet rolls.

How is recycled toilet made?

Recycled toilet paper is made up of both white and coloured commercial and residential recycled waste:

  • The paper stock is made by putting large bales of recycled paper into a pulping machine which mixes the paper with hot water and cleaning products.
  • It then enters the ink-removing stage. This involves pumping air into the mixture which creates foam which then carries the ink particles to the surface. This foam is then removed with a skimmer.
  • The mixture is then processed through rollers to squeeze out most of the water.
  • The pulp is then put through bleaching chemicals to turn it from being grey in colour to white. 
  • Metal blades are used to scrape the paper off the mesh screens.
  • The paper is then wound onto jumbo reels which get loaded onto a machine which unwinds, slits and rewinds back onto cardboard tubing.

What chemicals are used in making toilet paper?

More than 100,000 chemicals are used in the production of commercial paper products.
The worse chemical used in the production of most conventional toilet paper is chlorine bleach. For recycled products companies often use oxygen, peroxide or sodium hydroxide to whiten the paper however virgin paper manufacturers often use chlorine-based bleaches which react with molecules and other fibres in the wood creating many toxic by-products including dioxin. Dioxins are highly toxic and are bad for both health and the environment. For more information please read this article by medical news today.

Is there an eco friendly, zero waste alternative to toilet paper in the UK?

The best eco alternative available to toilet paper is a bidet. Bidets are already popular in many countries and the more educated we become on how bad toilet paper is for the environment hopefully the uptake in both the UK and worldwide will increase.

A bidet uses minimal water, especially when you compare it to the thousands of litres needed to make one roll of toilet paper. You may think of a bidet as a separate toilet which it can be but there are also some amazing alternatives you can install onto your existing toilet seat. Even ones which require no electric like this Boss Bidet. If you want the luxury of hot water and a heated air dryer then this eco friendly Flory can replace your toilet seat and is still much better for the environment than toilet paper.

For both your health and the health of the environment the most eco friendly way to clean after you go is a bidet. As well as the health and environment benefits they also make you feel much cleaner after use.

If you would still prefer to use toilet roll there are some more eco friendly alternatives to conventional toilet paper which we will look at.

Bamboo toilet paper:

bamboo toilet paperToilet paper made from 100% bamboo is a more eco friendly alternative than conventional toilet paper. If you want more information on the sustainability of bamboo please see here.

The Cheeky Panda is a UK based company inspiring positive change through innovative products made from bamboo. 
They are the first tissue company in the UK to be a certified B corporation ‘Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.” For more information please view the B Corporation website here.

The Cheeky Panda are the first tissue company in the UK to be registered with the vegan society and they have a carbon offset partnership with the World Land Trust in order to protect and rebuild the Khe Nuoc Trong rainforest in Vietnam. Whilst their bamboo tissue already generates 65% less carbon emissions than conventional tree-based tissue, this project ensures that their tissue is carbon balanced whilst also protecting the trees, plants, and animals of the rain forest.
All The Cheeky Panda products come in plastic free packaging.