Kick in the Butt: Soft Toilet Paper Battle Gets Messy

The plusher paper invariably comes from virgin wood, not recycled content
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2009 11:29 AM CDT
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(Newser) – The environmental campaign against soft toilet paper is heating up, as manufacturers
keep pushing the fluff factor—"Quilted Northern Ultra Plush is the first big brand to go three-ply and three-adjective," the Washington Post notes—and environmentalists want the industry to go all recycled. The softer rolls US consumers prefer require the long fibers of virgin wood, not the shorter fibers of recycled paper. TP accounts for only 5% of the US paper industry, but it's a lightning rod.

“It's like the Hummer product for the paper industry,” says one environmentalist. Recycled-paper leader Marcal agrees. “At what price softness?” asks an exec, who prefers to highlight the strength of its product. “If the paper breaks during your use of toilet paper...” Some headway has been made: Greenpeace has secured a promise from Kimberly-Clark to use 40% recycled content by 2011. But many agree that change can only come from the consumer.