It is marketed as the better loo roll for you and the environment, but what do you really know about recycled toilet paper? Here are some of the basics.
What is it made from?
When most people hear the phrase ‘recycled toilet paper’ they will recoil in disgust, thinking that the toilet paper on the shelf has been used by someone else before; this isn’t the case. Recycled toilet paper isn’t made from used toilet paper at all, but from recycled office paper or newspaper.
How is it made?
To make recycled toilet paper, large bales of recycled paper are put into a pulping machine at the toilet paper factory. The paper is mixed with lukewarm water to form a pulp before entering an ink-removing process.
To remove ink, the paper pulp is injected with air, making the ink rise to the top in a foam. This foam is then removed with a skimmer and the pulp is now ink-free.
Next, the water is squeezed out by passing the pulp through rollers. This dries it out and allows it to absorb bleaching chemicals to make the grey pulp clean and white. Before bleaching, revolving knives cut the pulp.
After bleaching, the pulp is spread on a flat screen that runs through a dryer. It dries into a delicate paper in less than a second, and is then rolled onto a large spool to be ready for embossing. Patterns are embossed on the paper to thicken it, which improves absorbency.
Endless cardboard tubes are also produced in the factory; the endless tube is cut into lengths and then transported (via conveyor belt) to the toilet paper section to be attached to the paper.
The long tubes have wide sheets of paper wound around them to the right length. When the roll is done, rolling stops, and the paper is cut with a blade. This long roll is then moved on, and winding begins on the next roll.
The rolls are automatically sealed with glue to stop them from unwinding, and then the long roll is sliced into individual rolls of the correct width.
From here it is packaged and sent off to distributors.
For a more detailed look, see this video.
Is it better for the environment?
It is absolutely better for the environment when you consider the amount of paper that is re-used to make the toilet paper; it also takes less water and energy than making paper from timber.
On top of this, it creates less pollution. The trees that are saved from becoming toilet paper go on to produce other (less disposable) products, or are left in their place where they absorb CO2 gas and produce oxygen for us.