It sounds very Zen — taking the tube out of the toilet paper. And yet, that's just what Kimberly-Clark has done with the newest offering under its Scott Naturals brand.
In a paper product category that's fairly mature in terms of sales — totaling $8.3 billion, with only 1.3% growth over the past two years — innovation needs to extend beyond simply making products softer, stronger and more absorbent, according to market research firm Mintel. By removing the cardboard tube from inside toilet paper rolls, Kimberly-Clark says it can make a dent in the 17 billion rolls used every year by American consumers.
“It sends an obvious, tangible signal that this is a sustainable product,” said Doug Daniels, strategy and brand innovation manager for Scott.
The tube-free rolls are wound in such a way that allows them to fit on standard toilet paper rollers, though the holes are not perfectly round.
As for the tubes themselves, companies and environmental groups encourage recycling. That can be tough, however, since bathrooms don't often have recycling bins.
“You can recycle the cardboard tubes, but the vast majority of consumers don't,” said Daniels.