Preserving the Environment

This Small Change to Toilet Paper Will Reduce Its Big Environmental Impact

September 2, 2014
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This Small Change to Toilet Paper Will Reduce Its Big Environmental Impact
More than 17 billion toilet paper tubes are thrown away each year in the U.S. Jeff T. Green/Getty Images
The bathroom tissue needs to roll with the times.

Why has this taken so long?

In news that would probably only upset the most passionate arts and crafters, tissue manufacturer Scott Paper (widely credited as the first ones to put toilet paper on a roll in 1890) is getting rid of its tube to cut down on waste.

The brand’s Scott Naturals line is offering tube-free toilet paper at Walmart stores nationwide. (The product had a test-run back in 2010 in the Northeast.)

The new version looks just like a regular roll, only without its center tube. “You just put it on the spindle like regular bath tissue,” Scott brand manager Jared Mackrory tells Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. “And when you get to that last sheet, it just rolls off. There’s no wasted cardboard tube left behind.”

MORE: How Texas is Turning Toilet Water into Drinking Water

In our opinion, good riddance. Not only has the cardboard tube been the bane of passive-aggressive standoffs between roommates and significant others for more than a century, it also generates a tremendous amount of trash. In a press release, parent company Kimberly-Clark Corp. says that the move will help eliminate a big chunk of the 17 billion toilet paper tubes Americans throw away every year, which is enough to fill the Empire State Building twice.

Additionally, ditching the cardboard will help cut down the environmental devastation caused by the pulp and paper industries, which is the third largest industrial emitter of global warming pollution, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Early reviews of the product have been mixed, with some customers praising how eco-friendly it is, while others have complained that the quality has gone down, claiming that it’s “flimsy and linty.” As for cost, Entrepreneur reports that the tube-free rolls run $8.87 for a pack of 12, compared to a cardboard-loving Extra-Soft 12-pack, which costs $8.54.

Scott could do the planet a favor by sharing its tube-free know-how with other toilet paper and paper towel brands. But in the meantime, please recycle your cardboard rolls.

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