March 14, 2010

What Is Recycled Toilet Paper?


My younger sister-in-law and I were talking about recycled toilet paper (not sure how we got on the subject), she looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned it and said "Ew! Why would anyone want to re-use their toilet paper?!"
So I set out on a mission to find out exactly what recycled TP is made from.  And I was shocked how hard it was to get the facts!  I found lots of advertisements from specific companies pushing their products; softness tests and surveys; I even found a site that some reporter "got to the bottom of this dirty business" and told a huge, hilarious story about recycled TP being made from used toilet paper at sewage plants.  Wow.  I don't know if they meant their report to be a joke, but it made me laugh.
This is the only site I could find that gave me the real facts.  So here is what I found:
Toilet tissue made from recycled paper is made from both colored and white stock (paper), with staples and pins removed. The paper goes into a huge vat called a pulper that combines it with hot water and detergents to turn it into a liquid slurry. The recycled pulp then goes through a series of screens and rinses to remove paper coatings and inks. The pulp is whitened somewhat and sanitized with oxygen-based products like peroxide. The pulp is mixed with water again to produce paper stock, a mixture that is 99.5% water and 0.5% fiber. The paper stock is sprayed between moving mesh screens, which allow much of the water to drain. This produces an 18-ft (5.5-m) wide sheet of matted fiber at a rate of up to 6,500 ft (1981 m) per minute. The mat is then transferred to a huge heated cylinder called a Yankee Dryer that presses and dries the paper to a final moisture content of about 5%. Next, the paper is creped, a process that makes it very soft and gives it a slightly wrinkled look. During creping, the paper is scraped off the Yankee Dryer with a metal blade. This makes the sheets somewhat flexible but lowers their strength and thickness so that they virtually disintegrate when wet. The paper, which is produced at speeds over a mile a minute, is then wound on jumbo reels that can weigh as much as five tons.  The paper is then loaded onto converting machines that unwind, slit, and rewind it onto long thin cardboard tubing, making a paper log. The paper logs are then cut into rolls and wrapped packages
Well, that wasn't quite as interesting as I had hoped.  But the good news is we can save a little money, and help our environment by purchasing recycled TP and tissues that are just going to be flushed and thrown away.  Save a few trees, why not?!  I'm not a "tree hugger" by any means, but it just makes sense to me.  It's like using fresh, clean (expensive) printing paper for your kids to scribble on... don't we always give them our misprinted papers and junk mail?  Side note: I'm starting to save all that "used paper" for printing out my own coupons online.

So far, I have only tried White Cloud Green Earth (Walmart).  They are actually very soft, and strong.  I haven't tried any other brands yet, but with the $1 off coupon, they are less than $2 for 4 Mega rolls (equivalent of 10.5 rolls).  Pretty good price!  Made from 100% recycled materials,
"Greenearth Comes from Everyday Recyclables Like Office Paper and Magazines, Deflecting Megatons of Waste Paper from Entering Landfills and Saving Numerous Trees from Commercial Harvest. Only Available In Giant Rolls, Greenearth Provides 40% More Sheets and Uses 15% Less Packaging Per Equivalent Roll.
Hypoallergenic. Septic Safe. Sewer and Septic Tank Safe. "  - From the packaging.
I've tried the paper towels too, and I like them!  They come in a select-a-size style that has helped our first roll to last more than a week already (and only half-way through)!  They aren't quite as soft as the toilet paper, but they stand up to cleaning the kids and counters... I'll leave the softness test to my bum.

So there you have it Hannah, my dear sister.  I hope that eases your mind the next time you're visiting us!

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