24 April 2010
Magazine issue 2757

NEXT time you reach for the toilet roll, consider this: 60 million rolls of toilet paper are flushed away in Europe every day. And the average American gets though 57 sheets a day, six times the global average.

In a report last week, the Worldwatch Institute in Washington DC highlighted the wastage of paper in rich and rapidly developing nations. In the US, 14.5 million tonnes of office paper and newspaper will be dumped this decade, despite being ideal for recycling as toilet paper.

Millions of tonnes of office paper and newspaper are dumped, despite being recyclable as toilet paper
The potential savings are huge: recycled paper consumes 64 per cent less energy and 50 per cent less water, and creates 74 per cent less air pollution, compared with paper made from virgin wood pulp. The biggest obstacle to recycling, says Worldwatch, is a preference for luxury, multi-ply tissues. The problem is growing: western nations are the biggest users of toilet paper, but its use is increasing in China and Africa.
New Scientist