Don’t flush forests down the toilet | WWF

Don’t flush forests down the toilet

Every day, about 270,000 trees are flushed down the drain or end up as garbage all over the world.

Most tissue products available in shops today – like toilet paper, kitchen towels, tissues and napkins – are made of virgin fibres and not recycled content.

But recycling is not the only problem. Unsustainable and illegal logging, badly managed plantations, and the use of bleaching chemicals all contribute to the environmental damage caused by tissue products.
Comparison of four rolls of toilet paper made of different types of tissue. Visual guide on ... rel=
Comparison of four rolls of toilet paper made of different types of tissue. Visual guide on recycled (left) versus bright white, bleached tissue. Message: Don't go for the whitest!

Choose recycled tissue

Most tissue products bought by household consumers contain very little recycled paper.

The recycling rate in the tissue sector is, in general, significantly lower than in the paper sector. The softness, strength and appearance of tissues are used as key reasons to justify the use of virgin forest wood fibres. And once used, tissue paper products are not recoverable or recyclable.
  • Watch out for recycling misleading claims on the packaging! Beware that recycling claims often only refer to the wrapping and not the tissue product.
  • No recycled tissue products? Ask for them at your supermarket! You will set an important signal by proactively asking for recycled tissue products. The retailers need to know from you that you don’t want to buy toilet paper which puts unnecessary pressure on the environment.
  • No brand name on the tissue product? Ask about level of recycled content! Retailers often have their own store brand, or “private label” , products in their stores. The fibres for these products are difficult to trace – they come from the tissue giants as well as a multitude of other manufacturers.

Did you know...

... your toilet roll may have contributed to the sell out of forests in the Baltic States and Russia for short term profits. How?

... to make your facial tissue, large areas of untouched forests may have been cut and burnt to make room for fast growing Eucalyptus plantations. How?

... your paper towel may have come from an unsustainable, clear cut forest. How?

Choose FSC tissue products

Unsustainable timber harvesting, illegal logging and land rights conflicts are a problem in many pulp-producing regions.

Wood fibres for tissue come from forests all over the world  – Canada, Russia, Latin America, US, South Africa, Asia and Europe. The sad news is that in several countries, unsustainable and illegal harvesting, social conflicts, and/or irresponsible plantation establishment and management still threaten forest biodiversity, the survival of many forest species as well as human rights.
  • If you can't buy tissue products with a high recycled content, then choose products carrying the FSC labelThis ensures the virgin fibres used to make the product came from forests managed to the highest environmental and social standards. 

Don’t choose the whitest product

The chemicals used to bleach tissue products can be harmful to animal health – and our own bodies too.
  • Look for tissue products which are not so bright.The whiter the product, the more likely it contains a high level of virgin fibres or that it was heavily bleached.
	© FSC
Forest Stewardship Council
	© Forest International

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