Biodegradable Toilet Papers: What are They and What’s the Difference?

In Toiletries by Iqbal HakimLeave a Comment

The average American uses about 140 rolls of toilet paper per year, that’s roughly 50% more compared to other western countries and Japan. Globally, over 27.000 trees are cut down everyday just to produce toilet paper, yikes!

Luckily, more and more people are becoming aware that all of their actions have ecological repercussions. Everyday items such as toilet paper are increasingly scrutinized for their environmental impact. One of the key concern voiced by customers is the possible effects a used toilet paper can have on the ecosystem. Will they decompose like other plant materials, or will they continue to pollute the environment like non-biodegradable plastic bags (Hint: We also have a solution for that).

Is Toilet Paper Biodegradable?

Now on to the first question, is toilet paper biodegradable? Why would we need this new product called biodegradable toilet paper if normal toilet papers will do the trick just fine?

Well, the answer is, yes, all toilet papers are biodegradable. After all, they are all made from the same natural material that is wood fiber. But there is some difference regarding the source materials and their decomposition speed. We’ll get to that later on.

But, i frequently get clogged drains! That means the toilet paper doesn’t degrade in my plumbing system, right?

Well yeah, but that’s because toilet papers have different decomposition speed. There are some that decompose really fast and there are some that just wont dissolve in water.

Because of that, you have to pick your toilet paper according to your plumbing quality. Have an old house or a sensitive plumbing system, opt for biodegradable toilet papers or these plumbing-safe toilet papers.

How Long Does it Take for Toilet Papers to Decompose?

It usually takes anywhere from 1 month to 3 years for regular toilet paper to dissolve
It usually takes anywhere from 1 month to 3 years for regular toilet paper to dissolve

Actually, this is a hard question, different toilet paper has different decomposition characteristics and speed. But, as a guideline, it’s not going to decompose as fast as you think it would. Think of how often home plumbing systems get blocked up due to toilet tissue, quite often yes?

In most cases, toilet paper needs a little over 1 month to break down completely in your septic system. Quite fast right? Well, that’s in a perfect condition, what about conditions that are less than perfect?

In a worst case scenario, the toilet paper will need anywhere from one to three years to fully decompose in your septic system. It’s crazy that a sheet of paper would need that long just to dissolve, in water!

As stated earlier, these are just rough guidelines on toilet paper decomposition rates. In reality, they are affected by several factors such as

  • Material and Chemical Composition.
  • Tissue thickness (thicker tissue takes longer).
  • How much water is available (less water means slower decomposition)
  • The weather conditions it’s exposed to (harsh weather usually speeds up the decomposition process).

Worried that your toilet paper might take too long to decompose? Worry not, there is another way, the biodegradable toilet paper way!

Biodegradable Toilet Papers, What Are They?

We’ve established that all toilet papers are indeed biodegradable, all of them will decompose in nature. But as you now know too, how long would it take to decompose varies wildly, from as fast as a month to as long as three years. But, toilet paper has a cousin that degrades faster, yep you guessed it, it’s the biodegradable toilet paper.

This toilet paper is specially designed to break down faster in nature compared to regular toilet paper. They break down even faster in sanitary systems, because of that, they’re perfect for you eco conscious folks out there that worries about the after effects of your toilet paper (which is us, basically).

What’s The Difference ?

Biodegradable toilet paper frequently uses unique materials such as bamboo
Biodegradable toilet paper frequently uses unique materials such as bamboo

Okay, so now you’re interested in this new product called biodegradable toilet paper, now, you’d like to know, what sets it apart from regular toilet paper, right?

We’ve got you covered, here is a list of differences between regular and biodegradable toilet paper.

  • It Breaks Down Faster.

Okay so first thing’s first, biodegradable toilet papers break down way faster compared to regular toilet paper.

  • It’s Made out of Different Materials.

Regular toilet paper is usually made out of 70% hardwood and 30% hardwood, using virgin trees cut down from the forests. Biodegradable toilet paper on the other hand, is usually made out of renewable resources such as

Bamboo

Bamboo toilet paper is a new competitor in the toilet paper scene. Besides being 100% biodegradable, bamboo toilet paper is also softer and cooler to the touch. Because of that, it’s rapidly gaining popularity in the toiletry world.

Bamboo is also very fast growing compared to hardwood trees because it’s a grass. Because of that, you don’t have to worry too much about it being unsustainably logged.

Even better, it will be beneficial for local communities in developing countries that has bamboo farms. They get jobs all year round while we get a softer and better toilet paper, a win-win solution right.

Still not convinced? Check out the 6 differences between bamboo toilet paper and regular toilet paper. I think you’ll be surprised how good one of the candidate is compared to the other.

Sugarcane

Sugarcane toilet paper is made out of bagasse, the by-product of nearly all sugar making process. With sugar in high demand worldwide, bagasse is unlikely to run out anytime soon.

Another nice thing is it’s basically reusing waste into a usable product. By using sugarcane based toilet paper, you’re helping the thousands of sugar farmers from around the world dispose of their unwanted waste product. Hey, another win-win solution right?

Still not convinced? Read our lowdown on bagasse toilet papers right here and see if it’s good for you.

Hemp

Hemp is one of the most versatile plants in the world. It’s fibers can be turned into ropes, clothes, and even paper! Sadly, it still gets a bad reputation due to marijuana. If you can get past this, hemp is an excellent alternative to try.

With hemp being in abundance globally, it would be a perfect solution for the deforestation problems that plague our paper industry.

Kenaf

Kenaf or Javan Jute is a ridiculously fast growing plant, it only needs about 100 to 200 days to fully mature from a seed into a full grown Jute plant.

It’s fibers are also very functional, it can be used as rope, coarse clothes, paper, and even wood boards to some extent. Nowadays, kenaf is also used to create edible vegetable oil and biofuel from it’s seeds. Truly a multi purpose plant.

Research shows that one hectare of Kenaf plantation can be used to create fifteen tons of paper making material. It’s a highly efficient use of resources compared to using hardwood trees for paper production. Because of that, kenaf is one of the emerging alternatives for paper production.

Regular Hardwood

Yep, not all biodegradable toilet paper is made out of fancy new materials. Some are just made from regular hardwood, just like any regular toilet paper. But, the difference is in the composition and construction.

Septic safe and biodegradable toilet papers made from regular hardwood are usually made differently compared to regular toilet paper.

They also have a different composition, or might even contain some additives designed to break down the tissue paper faster once it comes into contact with water or other liquids.

Why You Should Use Biodegradable Toilet Paper

Besides being easier for the environment, biodegradable toilet paper will also save you plumbing costs
Besides being easier for the environment, biodegradable toilet paper will also save you plumbing costs

There are two things that would probably be of concern regarding toilet paper. Where they come from and what happens to them after you throw them away.

Biodegradable toilet papers usually use more eco friendly source materials. As you can see above, these kind of toilet papers are usually made from alternative materials such as bamboo, bagasse, hemp, or kenaf. Because of that, you don’t have to worry too much about causing deforestation the next time you take your time in the loo.

What happens after you throw toilet paper away? Yep, they decompose, but can they do it fast enough?

Regular toilet papers usually need anywhere between 1 month to 3 years to fully decompose in the environment, depending on the availability of water and the weather. Biodegradable toilet paper however, is designed to break down faster, way faster compared to regular toilet paper.

Biodegradable toilet papers can decompose up to 4 times faster compared to regular toilet paper. Imagine that, no more clogged drains and filling up the landfill eh?

For you readers that are living in an RV, is going to go camping, or has a house with a sensitive septic system. We highly recommend you guys to pick biodegradable toilet papers compared to regular toilet paper. It’ll save you a lot of headache related to clogged drains and septic system failure.

The Best Biodegradable Toilet Paper?

If you ask us what the best biodegradable toilet paper is, we would like to point you to Scott Rapid Dissolving Toilet Paper.

This toilet paper doesn’t just decompose 4 times faster than regular toilet paper on the market. It is also quite soft and will pamper you with every stroke.

It’s an absolute beast for camping or for people living in an RV. The toilet paper simply dissolves when you flush the toilet. Because of that, we think that it’s simply the best choice for people looking for fast dissolving biodegradable toilet paper.

Don’t believe us, check out our take on the best biodegradable tissue paper for camping or for poor septic systems!

Further Reading

If you’re interested in reading more about toilet paper alternatives and how it degrades in the environment. Check out these cool articles!

Kenaf, a New Fiber Crop for Paper Production

Pulp and Paper Production from Sugarcane Bagasse

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