Regular vs Recycled vs Bamboo Toilet Paper Comparison: Differences, & Which Is Best?

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.

We’ve put together this regular vs recycled vs bamboo toilet paper comparison guide to outline those features and differences, and also discuss which type of TP might be best across different areas.

 

Summary – Regular vs Recycled vs Bamboo Toilet Paper Comparison

Eco Friendliness

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

Read more about the potential sustainability and eco friendliness of different types of toilet paper in this guide

 

Softness

In terms of softness, regular TP and bamboo TP might be softest, followed by recycled TP (although some recycled can be soft).

 

Strength

In terms of strength, thick or triple ply regular TP and bamboo TP might be strongest, followed by recycled TP

 

Price

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.

 

Personal Preference

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

Common Features

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

Common Features

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

Read more about recycled toilet paper in this guide

 

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

Common Features

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

From mic.com:

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.

 

 

Sources

1. https://toilettravels.com/toilet-talk/how-is-toilet-paper-made/

2. http://groovygreenliving.com/use-recycled-toilet-paper/

3. http://www.madehow.com/Volume-6/Toilet-Paper.html

4. https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/responsible-living/stories/which-is-greener-toilet-paper-or-a-bidet

5. https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/just-how-sustainable-is-your-toilet-paper/

6. https://www.ri-industries.com.au/bidet-not-bidet/

7. https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/bamboo-toilet-paper-review

8. https://www.hollyrose.eco/2017/07/sustainable-switch-terrific-truth-about.html

9. https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/You-and-your-home/Live-sustainably/Single-use-items/Toilet-paper

10. https://pureplanet.com.au/blogs/roll-with-us/the-devastating-impact-regular-toilet-tissue-has-on-the-environment

11. https://www.mic.com/articles/127961/what-toilet-paper-is-doing-to-the-planet

12. https://www.seattletimes.com/life/lifestyle/flushing-out-the-truth-about-recycled-toilet-paper/

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