Some people might be interested in switching to recycled or bamboo toilet paper from regular toilet paper, but don’t know what the key features and differences of each are.
Summary – Regular vs Recycled vs Bamboo Toilet Paper Comparison
In terms of eco friendliness, 100% post consumer recycled toilet paper might be the best
100% pre consumer recycled toilet paper – made from wood chips, wood off cuts, and so on – may also rate highly
Bamboo toilet paper may follow closely behind or be equal with recycled toilet paper
Regular toilet paper might follow behind both of them
But, some regular toilet paper made with sustainably sourced and more eco friendly methods might jump up the rankings – it depends on how the individual toilet paper is sourced and produced, and the features of the individual product
In terms of softness, regular TP and bamboo TP might be softest, followed by recycled TP (although some recycled can be soft).
In terms of strength, thick or triple ply regular TP and bamboo TP might be strongest, followed by recycled TP
Price is dependent on the brand and product, but regular TP is usually cheapest, with some very cost competitive bamboo TP and recycled TP on the market as well.
Which one is best might come down to personal preference in one area, or a combination of the above areas.
Common Features For Each Type Of Toilet Paper
We’ve listed some of the common features for each type of TP in the guide below
How Different Toilet Papers Rate, Depends On The Individual Brand & Product
The information in this guide involves generalisations only.
Ultimately, how each TP rates depends on the individual brand and product being assessed.
Where companies source their TP from, their individual production processes, and the features of the individual TP product all make a difference i.e. what the lifecycle of the TP product involves.
This is why it’s important to research and check the details provided by brands before buying.
Money Back Guarantee
Some companies offer a money back guarantee with their toilet paper (especially the bamboo and recycled TP products), so you might look for this if trying a new type for the first time.
Regular Toilet Paper
A few common features might be:
Usually comes from virgin trees grown on a plantation. These plantations are usually established specifically for harvesting wood for paper products
Can also be made from wood that comes from sustainably managed tree forests that meet national sustainable certification for environmental and social standards (i.e. have a sustainable forestry certification)
Usually use water, energy and land to grow, cut and process trees
May or may not plant a tree for every tree cut down
Wood chips are then processed into paper pulp (and eventually paper) with chemicals
Paper is perforated, bleached (for whitening), inked/dyed, and scented
Can be thin or thick ply
Usually quite soft
Usually cost competitive
Usually comes in plastic packaging
Read more about regular toilet paper in this guide
Regular toilet paper in developed countries usually isn’t directly responsible for deforestation of native trees or the most biodiverse rain forests.
It usually comes from either sawdust and offcuts of timber that was being used for other purposes, or huge monoculture plantations of pulpwood soft wood and hardwood trees grown specifically for wood resources.
On top of this, some regular toilet paper products are sustainable forest certified.
So, some claims made by some environmentalists about regular toilet paper might be inaccurate in some ways.
This is illustrated by this information by mnn.com:
“If every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of 500 sheet virgin fiber bathroom tissue with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 423,900 trees.”
[An issue with this statement though might be that …] Most tissue-grade paper is made from sawdust and leftover scraps of timber cut for other purposes [instead of natural forests]
And while there are some outrageous exceptions, the trees come from vast stands of pulpwood forests, harvested like the vegetables
… [sustainable timber management still has it’s negative environmental impact such as being a monoculture and the resources used, the carbon footprint and waste produced, but it doesn’t] necessarily equal the destruction of virgin forest
On top of that, recycled toilet paper still requires energy and resources to collect, clean, remove metal from, and de-ink.
Bamboo toilet paper still requires land and resources to grow, harvest and turn into pulp.
Recycled Toilet Paper
A few common features might be:
Can be made of 100% recycled, or partially recycled paper mix
Can be pre consumer or post consumer paper
Pre consumer recycled paper can include off cuts from timber and wood chips (and other sources and types of wood)
Post consumer recycled paper can include office paper and other types of already used paper
Recycled TP still requires resources (chemicals, energy and other resources) to break down the recycled paper, mix it, make a recycled paper pulp, for whitening and inking/dying, and to make the final roll.
Some recycled paper is bleached for whitening whilst others aren’t
Can come with plastic or recycled paper packaging
Usually the most eco friendly option if it’s 100% recycled post consumer toilet paper with no plastic packaging (uses recycled paper packaging instead)
Sometimes not as soft or strong as regular or bamboo toilet paper
Other Information About Recycled Toilet Paper
sustainability.vic.gov.au also indicates there may be energy savings in recycled toiler paper:
Choosing recycled toilet paper also saves energy, since the production of paper and cardboard products made from recycled paper uses 50 per cent less energy and 90 per cent less water than making them from raw materials
toilettravels.com indicates how many trees might be saved by switching from TP that uses virgin paper vs recycled paper:
If every household replaced their 300 sheet virgin fiber toilet paper with 100% recycled product, America could save 630,000 trees per year [quoting Seventh Generation]
1millionwomen.com.au indicates that recycled paper might save the following resources:
… every tonne of paper recycled saves 13 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4100 kilowatts of electricity, four cubic metres of landfill and 31,380 litres of water [… but] Only five percent of the toilet paper [used in] Australia is made from recycled paper … The rest is virgin fibre from plantation or native-forest trees
seattletimes.com indicates there may be environmental benefits to using recycled toilet paper:
Making recycled paper consumes less water and energy and creates less air pollution and water pollution than making paper from timber.
mic.com indicates that recycled TP can be more eco friendly in some ways, but, for TP to feel softer or more plush, it might use paper from virgin trees:
[Recycled TP is better environmentally than regular toilet paper – but, it’s may not be as soft in some instances or fluffy because the fibers are shorter]
Although toilet tissue can be made at similar cost from recycled material, it is the fiber taken from standing trees that help give it that plush feel, and most large manufacturers rely on them.
Bamboo Toilet Paper
A few common features might be:
Material is sourced from bamboo plants (and sometimes sugarcane as well) usually grown in China (but some can come from different countries)
Bamboo is more sustainable than trees (and virgin wood) as it grows fast, uses land efficiently, and doesn’t use fertilizer or pesticides. It can also be water efficient depending on the climate
Still requires chemicals to break the fibres down into a pulp to make paper, but it’s usually not the same chemical mix used for bamboo textiles
Bamboo toilet paper may or may not be bleached. It may or may not be inked and scented
Bamboo toilet paper is usually just behind, or equal with recycled paper for eco friendliness
Bamboo toilet paper is usually as soft and strong as regular toilet paper
Can come with paper or plastic packaging
Read more about bamboo toilet paper in this guide
Other Information About Bamboo Toilet Paper
pureplanet.com.au indicates that bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, and the more it cuts, the more it grows.
So, this might be considered against the growing of trees for non-bamboo TP.
Fluffy Toilet Paper As A Potential Problem Toilet Paper
Fluffy toilet paper can be the worst – Millions of trees harvested in North America and in Latin American countries, including some percentage of trees from rare old-growth forests in Canada.