Recycled can be soft
Traditionally, consumers have shied away from buying recycled toilet paper because of its coarser texture. But new players have entered the market with recycled products that are softer, and competitive with the premium market. These papers defy the old ‘sandpaper’ image and provide a more user-friendly option for those interested in trying greener products. One recycled product scored high enough to be in the What to buy list and is our Green Buy: ENVIROSOFT.
However, the other three recycled products (NATURALE, DANDY and TREEFREE) were rated among the bottom five. When choosing toilet paper, it seems we still place more emphasis on factors such as strength, absorbency and softness rather than environmental considerations.
Beware of greenwashing
As with all products, watch out for greenwash. CHOICE found the toilet paper industry thrives on green claims (see Green claims on supermarket labels), with the average product packaging containing five claims and some as many as eight. To cut through the greenwash when you’re shopping for toilet paper, look for products that have a high recycled content. Post-consumer is preferable to pre-consumer recycled sources (sometimes called manufacturing offcuts or discarded wood pulp). Also, choose a product that’s unbleached or uses oxygen bleaching rather than chorine bleaching.
Most of our Home Testers said they weren’t concerned whether their toilet paper was made with pre-consumer or post-consumer paper waste, which probably reflects a lack of knowledge of the difference. They’d choose unbleached toilet paper, but weren’t aware of a difference between oxygen and chlorine bleaching. However, about three quarters said they definitely wouldn’t or probably wouldn’t buy products sourced from old-growth forest or rainforests if they were given clear information about the source.
More about bleaching
While a product may state that it’s chlorine-free, it’s important to read the fine print. It could be “Elemental chlorine free” (sometimes written as ECF), which is better for the environment than regular chlorine bleaching but still not ideal because chlorine is still involved.
Where possible, choose a toilet paper that’s unbleached. Otherwise, look for products that are oxygen-bleached or marked “totally chorine free”.