Claims of 100% recycled content from used office paper are specific and verifiable, which means the company could easily prove the claim if asked to.
Only one of the products we surveyed, Quilton Ecoply, is vague, saying its middle layer is made from recycled fibre, without stating either the percentage that is recycled or its source.
With any recycled content product, look for “post-consumer waste” (such as used office paper). “Pre-consumer waste” is simply reprocessed off-cuts from a virgin product that has never left the factory floor.
Most brands made from virgin fibre claim to use only plantation trees or fibre from sustainable forestry.
Kimberly-Clark (maker of Kleenex and Wondersoft) uses mainly plantation trees from certified forests. The company has even undertaken a “life cycle assessment” to show that virgin fibre toilet tissue products made from plantations are just as sustainable as recycled products.
A new toilet paper, Green Soft, is labelled “No Trees” and claims to be made from bamboo, straw, reeds and cotton. According to environmental scientist Kyle O’Farrell, bamboo, straw and reeds are fast-growing crops with less impact on the environment than trees – but cotton is a water- and chemical-intensive crop and should be avoided for a single-use product such as toilet paper. Without a labelling system to verify these fibres are sustainably sourced, it’s impossible to know for sure how these claims stack up.