Is Charmin toilet paper biodegradable? (3 types of toilet paper)

This article will unravel the environmental effect of Charmin toilet paper while also shedding light if it is biodegradable or not. Other covered aspects would include:

  • What is Charmin toilet paper?
  • What is the background and history of toilet paper?
  • What is the environmental impact of toilet paper?
  • Is the case of Charmin toilet paper any different?
  • What is biodegradability?
  • Is Charmin toilet paper biodegradable?
  • FAQs

Is Charmin toilet paper biodegradable?

Charmin toilet paper is biodegradable because it is made from natural, plant-based materials. Toilet papers are made from two types of trees, namely hardwood and softwood trees. 

Charmin toilet paper is regarded as eco-friendly because of the green steps it has taken in recent years such as affiliation with the Forest Stewardship Council and association with green NGOs. 

Charmin makes sure that its production does not affect or cause any harm to the related or associated wildlife. Therefore, it only uses pulp that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. 

Further, steps are also taken to ensure that tree cutting is compensated in the best possible way. That is why, for every tree that is cut to extract the raw materials for Charmin products, two new trees are also planted. 

What is Charmin toilet paper?

Charmin is a brand of toilet paper that is based in America. It is manufactured by manufacturer Procter and Gamble.

It is made from wood pulp and water. This pulp is sourced from both softwood and hardwood trees. 

The history of Charmin toilet paper dates back to the start of the twentieth century. It is stated that Charmin toilet paper has been making toilet paper since 1928. 

This article will explain the composition and the environmental impact that is rendered by toilet paper with a special emphasis on Charmin toilet paper. 

As can be guessed from the name, toilet paper is made from a combination of softwood and hardwood. 

Most of the toilet paper makes use of virgin paper that is obtained from two types of sources that include soft and hardwood. You may wonder what is the need for this diversity or what is the difference between the two sources of wood. 

Softwood is made from longer fibres and is extracted from trees such as Southern pines. The paper obtained from this wood is responsible for giving strength and character to the tissue paper. 

Hardwood is made from shorter fibres. It is obtained from sources such as maple, oak et cetera. This type of paper is comparatively softer. 

The manufacturers of toilet paper make use of paper obtained from both types of wood (soft and hard) so that tissue paper may be soft but sturdy. 

There may be different combinations but most of the manufacturers including Charmin make use of 70% hardwood and 30% softwood. 

Other than these, some manufacturers may also make use of recycled paper instead of using virgin material. This decreased the environmental impact drastically. 

However, this action comes at the cost of using other materials as well that include ozone, sodium hydroxide, and oxygen. This is chiefly done to increase the whiteness of the recycled paper. 

As per the case of Charmin, it is claimed that more than 80% of the packaging is post-consumer recycled while more than 90% of the cores, cartons and paperboard are made from recycled fibres. 

As per the virgin fibres, these are extracted from renewable, sustainable and third-party approved sources. More details will be given in future sections. 

What is the background and history of toilet paper? (3 types) 

This section will give a slight overview of the history and background of toilet paper. It is argued that the use of toilet paper to be used in toilets is a fairly recent intervention. Before this, there were a number of other alternatives available that included:

  • Use of corn cobs
  • Use of sponges
  • Use of cotton clothes
  • Use of powdered brick 
  • Use of sand
  • Use of stones

All these materials were used as an alternative or precursor to the modern-day toilet paper which was introduced in the 19th century. In the last century or so, there have been a lot of interventions to modern-day toilet paper. 

These include: 

  • Scented toilet paper
  • Embossed toilet paper
  • Coloured toilet paper 

If we speak about today, tissue paper has become a modern-day necessity. This can be exemplified by the stats. It is claimed that there are more than 42 million tons of toilet paper used globally. 

These fervent figures imply how much toilet paper is used and how great of a necessity these have become. 

What is the environmental impact of toilet paper?

This section will cover the environmental impacts that are rendered by common toilet paper. It is argued that although toilet paper is sourced from natural, plant-based sources, they still have certain impacts on the environment. 

The biggest factor that contributes to this is the fact that toilet paper is made from trees and this means that there will be cutting of trees. It is already suggested that human activities have resulted in a 50% decreased tree count. 

Trees are essential entities that save us from environmental anomalies and play their part in the sustainability and maintaining the greenness of the environment.

If there will be excessive tree cutting, there will be negative impacts on the environment including soil erosion, destruction of habitats, and disruption of ecosystems. Trees are the primary producers. They are the starting points of food webs and food chains. 

If trees are cut in grave amounts, there will be effects reciprocated at various levels of food chains. 

With decreased amounts of trees, there will be an increased release of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide. This is because plants and trees take up carbon and convert it into oxygen. This saves our atmosphere from a couple of environmental anomalies. 

When there are fewer trees, there will be a more polluted atmosphere due to carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is regarded as a greenhouse gas. This is because it leads to a phenomenon that is termed global warming. 

Global warming, as the name suggests, leads to increased global temperatures. This, in turn, gives rise to a plethora of other anomalies as well. These can be summarised into: 

  • Increased melting of glaciers
  • Soil erosion
  • Deforestation
  • Acid rain
  • Ozone depletion
  • Droughts
  • Floods 
  • Disruption of ecosystems 
  • Destruction of habitats
  • Unprecedented weather patterns 
  • Financial losses
  • Substantial losses
  • Species endangerment 

Is the case of Charmin toilet paper any different?

With the discussed negative and detrimental impacts that are caused by the making of toilet papers, you may wonder what is the case of Charmin toilet paper. Is that any different?

The answer is, fortunately, yes. There are a number of green endeavours that have been done by the Charmin brand that earn it a number of green badges. These include: 

  • Forest Stewardship Council 
  • Rainforest Alliance 

However, this was not the case at the start. It is claimed that in 2009, the Charmin brand was declared not eco-friendly. However, the said brand then took a number of green steps to stray away from the said reputation. 

Now, Charmin is regarded as one of the most sustainable toilet paper manufacturers. This is because of the environmental considerations that it has taken. 

Charmin makes sure that its production does not affect or cause any harm to the related or associated wildlife. Therefore, it only uses pulp that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. 

Further, steps are also taken to ensure that tree cutting is compensated in the best possible way. That is why, for every tree that is cut to extract the raw materials for Charmin products, two new trees are also planted. This ensures that there are no long-term negative effects and that the future is not sacrificed in any way. 

This is exactly what the principle of sustainability is. To meet the needs of the present by ensuring that the future generation’s needs are not affected in any way. 

Charmin also partners and affiliates with organisations that solely aim for the development of wildlife and natural habitats. Examples of such organisations may include the Arbor Day foundation. 

What is biodegradability? 

Biodegradability can be defined as a process of breakdown of waste into simpler materials so that waste may not accumulate. 

There are multiple drivers of biodegradability. The major driver of biodegradability is microbes. These may include viruses, fungi, algae, bacteria, and decomposers. 

Other facilitators of biodegradability include:

  • Aeration 
  • Sunlight 
  • Temperature
  • Pressure 

The process of biodegradation may occur in some steps. The steps involved in the biodegradation process include: 

  • Biodeterioration
  • Biofragmentation
  • Assimilation
  • Mineralisation 

The process of biodegradability is important because it results in the negation of waste accumulation and generation. If that does not happen, there will be negative effects on the environment and life. 

Biodegradable waste is the type of waste which can be degraded by the action of microbes and enzymes over a short period of time. Regarding this type, there is a general rule of thumb that biodegradable waste is mostly sourced from natural sources. 

Examples of biodegradable waste include plant waste, animal waste, sewage, manure, waste from slaughterhouses et cetera. 

Next, we have non-biodegradable waste. This type of waste is mostly sourced from non-natural sources such as the products of fossil fuels. This type of waste won’t degrade readily by the action of microbes. 

It is claimed that this type of waste may require even a thousand years to degrade. Therefore, it will lead to waste accumulation and negative impacts. Because of this, non-biodegradable waste is of more significant concern to environmentalists as compared to biodegradable waste. 

Examples of non-biodegradable waste include synthetic plastics, synthetic fibres, epoxies, hazardous waste, nuclear waste, electronic waste et cetera. 

Is Charmin toilet paper biodegradable?

Based on the current analysis, it is very possible to build a stance on the biodegradability status of Charmin toilet paper. 

Since Charmin toilet paper is made from natural materials, it is biodegradable. It may degrade readily as compared to non-biodegradable materials that may require hundreds of years. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that Charmin toilet paper is biodegradable because it is made from natural, plant-based materials. Toilet papers are made from two types of trees, namely hardwood and softwood trees. 

Charmin toilet paper is regarded as eco-friendly because of the green steps it has taken in recent years such as affiliation with the Forest Stewardship Council and association with green NGOs. 

Charmin makes sure that its production does not affect or cause any harm to the related or associated wildlife. Therefore, it only uses pulp that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. 

Further, steps are also taken to ensure that tree cutting is compensated in the best possible way. That is why, for every tree that is cut to extract the raw materials for Charmin products, two new trees are also planted. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Is Charmin toilet paper biodegradable?

How much time does toilet paper require to degrade?

Biodegradable toilet paper may degrade in 1-2 months based on external conditions. 

Can toilet paper be made from recycled material?

Yes, not only is it possible but it is also preferred that toilet paper must be made from recycled materials. Companies such as Green-forest Premium bathroom tissues can be cited as an example. 

References 

  • Bloemhof-Ruwaard, J. M., Van Wassenhove, L. N., Gabel, H. L., & Weaver, P. M. (1996). An environmental life cycle optimization model for the European pulp and paper industry. Omega, 24(6), 615-629.
  • Borin, N., Cerf, D. C., & Krishnan, R. (2011). Consumer effects of environmental impact in product labelling. Journal of Consumer Marketing.
  • Beckline, M., Yujun, S., Eric, Z., & Kato, M. S. (2016). Paper consumption and environmental impact in an emerging economy. J. Energy, Environ. Chem. Eng, 1(1), 13-18.
  • Pommier, S., Llamas, A. M., & Lefebvre, X. (2010). Analysis of the outcome of shredding pretreatment on the anaerobic biodegradability of paper and cardboard materials. Bioresource Technology, 101(2), 463-468.
  • Charmin Blogs. Retrieved from: https://www.charmin.com/en-us

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