Disposable Paper: Do Your Duty

Consumers are moving beyond the immediate concerns of diet and personal health to the impact their daily activities have on the environment. Such growing awareness is helping to spur new activity in the disposable paper categories, including toilet paper. This is a product we use for two or three seconds and it can't be recycled any more after this, said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the

Consumers are moving beyond the immediate concerns of diet and personal health to the impact their daily activities have on the environment. Such growing awareness is helping to spur new activity in the disposable paper categories, including toilet paper.

“This is a product we use for two or three seconds and it can't be recycled any more after this,” said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Tissue products are about 15% of production in the paper industry, so it's a big footprint.”

Many manufacturers offer post-consumer or recycled bathroom tissue, and more are poised to do so.

For example, Marcal Paper Products, Elmwood Park, N.J., one of the country's oldest suppliers of recycled paper products, is re-launching its entire line under the new “Small Steps” brand name. James D'Agosta, Marcal's senior vice president of sales, said quality and efficacy issues have been largely, er, wiped out.

“The barriers to all green products historically have been the sacrifice on performance,” he said.

The NRDC's Hershkowitz believes consumers simply need to toughen up a bit.

“There's soft, and there's soft enough,” he said.