Safe Toilet Tissue - Paper Wrapping Not Actually Recyclable

For years I have been buying this toilet paper because it is recycled and wrapped in paper. Brown paper. So wholesome! But just last week I realised that the inside of the paper was shiny. I have extra-sensitive plastic detecting sensors at the moment because it is Plastic-Free July. So over the course of the last week I have been having this conversation with the sales department people at Encore Tissue:

Hi, just wanted to let you know I have used your toilet paper for years because it is recycled and packaged in paper, and sustainability is the thing I look for first in a product.

A quick question - I have noticed that there is a shiny lining to the paper packaging on the Safe toilet paper. Is that a plastic lining? Is the packaging recyclable?



Hi Jo,
Thank you for taking the time to contact Encore Tissue regarding your below enquiry.
The shiny lining is in fact a plastic layer which helps the paper bind and stick together when being sealed.
Both elements are recyclable.

Sales At Encore

Thanks for getting back to me. Good to know both elements are
recyclable. Just to clarify, does this mean I can put the paper Safe
toilet tissue packaging in the council recycling bin or recycle it
wherever paper recycling is available?

Regards, Jo

Hi Jo, 

After looking into this further, as there is a plastic layer behind the paper - it is to go into landfill.

Sales at Encore

Thanks for looking into this Sales people.

It is disappointing that the paper wrapping for a recycled toilet paper product needs to be binned, and I would really appreciate it if this is something that your company could look into to make Safe Toilet Tissue a truly sustainable product.



I am really unhappy about this outcome. I am grateful to the Sales Department (I did actually talk to a particular person with a name, but didn't publish it here) for looking into the matter for me, but really, Safe Toilet Paper people.. if you put a product into brown paper packaging it seems to me to be a reasonable assumption that it is paper, and therefore recyclable. Paper with a sneaky plastic backing? What is the point? And why? Why not just put it in brown paper? Sigh. I will now be sharing my friend's Who Gives a Crap toilet paper order.

PS I do apologise, but despite trying multiple times I cannot get all the text on this page to remain the same size..


Heather in CA said…
Because of your post, today I purchased toilet paper, paper towel, and tissue from Who Gives A Crap. (All first world-luxuries that my household is not ready to give up.) And because of last week's post, I was spurred to finally try making my own yogurt to eliminate all those plastic yogurt containers piling up, waiting their turn at re-use. (It was so easy! And the yogurt was delicious! Why oh why have I waited so long?) I'm all over the food-waste-reduction thing, too. And your long-ago post on the effects of the mining of rare metals for electronics has led me to resist all year when my husband has been urging me to "upgrade" my electronic devices. Your lifestyle changes, and your efforts to document them in your writing, haunt me in a good way when I am making my own lifestyle choices. It's not that I don't get the same information from other sources- it's your voice in particular, which seems like that of a good-humored but particularly determined friend, that somehow sticks in my head and forces me to examine why I am not doing the same yet. And your writing is so entertaining and engaging that I literally enjoy reading your grocery lists.
Just in case you were wondering whether your work makes a difference, it does to me.
Thanks for all you do-
--Heather in CA
Linda said…
I live in the UK but I appreciate your great disappointment in this product which you thought was ethically correct and in tune with your beliefs. Quite ridiculous to over wrap in something which had to go to landfill. 😕
Anonymous said…
The company would probably say the plastic around the loo paper protects the loo paper, eg from moisture, and causes less waste. But how deceitful!!! And how many people have popped this in the recycling only to ruin a batch of recycling?

I was going to comment on your previous plastic free post, that processed food, eg flour as opposed to fresh fruit and veg, when it is transported in bulk is often wrapped in plastic on the pallets. So even if you think it looks plastic free, say in the bulk foods shop, it may have travelled with miles of plastic wrap from the processing plant to the wholesaler before it gets to the shop. Same with stuff like loo paper.

But look! You're doing wonders, not just on your own use but influencing others.

And maybe the toilet paper will change? Though I fear if they change st the consumer end, they may use plastic on the pallet. Still, look at Woolies and Coles! Agreeing to phase out single use plastic bags in 12 months. Of course, it'll save and make them money as people buy the reusable ones. Still, it will mean fewer bags in landfill
jj said…
We get a bulk order of Who Gives A Crap loo paper with about 20 other families in our Village, it's a BIG order! Your last post led me to have a look at the inside of a paper sugar bag when it finished & to my dismay it had a coating, presumably plastic, sigh! Keep up the good work Jo, love your writing :)
Jo said…
Heather, thank you, my dear, really. Your comment made me cry:) In truth, it works both ways. I couldn't have made these changes without all of the support, encouragement, brilliant ideas and challenges to my thinking that I find here. Also, I am doing a writing course at the moment and suffering a real crisis of confidence that I could ever write a single word worth publishing.. so, thank you again for your own kind words. Every single one of them helps me put one foot in front of the other, and I am so glad that anything I have written has made a difference to you. Enjoy your paper-wrapped toilet paper:)

Linda,it happens over and over again. Things that look like they can be recycled, but can't be. It makes me very, very unhappy..

Lucinda, I have been recycling this for years. Aargh! It seems to me that if a paper product can't be recycled, that should be stated somewhere on the packaging. Yes, I hear you on the hidden plastic - as I mentioned in the post, most of the food in the bulk bins comes wrapped in plastic. But at least it results in less plastic overall. And the more we make a big fuss about plastic, the more corporations will have to put their considerable resources to work looking at alternatives.

Also, local food is still the key. If it doesn't have to travel very far, it doesn't need very much packaging..

jj, a bulk order of toilet paper is a brilliant idea. Oh, yes, that hidden plastic.. if a package is going to be coated in plastic, why not make it all out of plastic? At least it has a chance of being recycled. Perhaps the answer is to mail all this non-recyclable packaging back to the manufacturer. Let them deal with it..
Unknown said…
That is a real shame! And good on you for taking it to the next level. Every bit counts doesnt it?x
Deborah said…
Plastic Free July has really made us focus on our use of plastic. I was interested to see Coles and Woolworths are phasing out plastic bags because it in no way inconveniences them: their fruit and veg is often wrapped in plastic on plastic, their meat, ditto and also their breads.
It is the consumer who must, rightly, change their ways.
I buy fruit and veg by the piece and when it's weighed at the checkout, put it in my basket, but the meat we like comes from another source, wrapped in plastic. It is frustrating!
Your persistence and clever ideas are so motivating. Thankyou.

Jo said…
Clarissa. I think we have to believe, and to behave as if every bit does count. Because otherwise we will fail to do anything about anything.

Deborah, mm, yes, this is the thin edge of the wedge for supermarkets. We will just have to keep pressuring them until they are very inconvenienced indeed.. I do agree with you about the difficulties of buying meat without plastic. It is tricky, and indeed frustrating. But more and more people are trying to do it. If enough consumers demand it, industry and government regulations will find a way around it..
Allison said…
whoa we buy the planet ark paper here in Tas as well...can't believe they just want you to dispose of the packaging and kind of hard to believe their sales team didn't even know the answer straight off the bat...surely this enviro friendly aspect is their biggest sales/marketing angle.

enjoying your blog,

Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Oh no! I use that toilet paper too. Oh well, I have been burning the wrapper for several years now and I can assure you that it burns remarkably well. Oh well, I guess there is a good reason for that.


Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Your enthusiasm and sheer enjoyment at the art of writing shine through in your words. The French may call this: Joie de vivre - despite your claims to the contrary. ;-)! Remember to enjoy yourself in the writing process too and well, if you enjoy the words, then other people may do so too. And if they don't enjoy your words, then too bad, so sad for them. It may or may not be helpful, but I try to keep at the back of my mind whilst writing to remember to always tell a story (in its simplest form: what are you trying to say with the words?). And to be really honest I never know what stories will strike a chord with other people.


Jo said…
Allison, yes, my thoughts exactly. That is the paper they want to sell to people like you and me whose first concern is the environment..

Chris, I burn that paper in the winter as well - it makes a great fire starter! But imagine what that plastic lining is doing to the inside of our chimney flues, let alone the pollution it is putting into the air..yes, I do love to write. Getting the exact words to convey the impression I am after.. priceless :) It is a true joy. Taking it to the next level and trying to get published? Terrifying.
Nicola said…
Who Gives A Crap are brilliant. We've been buying loo paper from them for over a year now. Great service and all recyclable packaging, and they also donate to build toilets in villages that don't have them. The roll's paper packaging scrunched up also makes a great cat toy 😊
Jo said…
Nicola, that's a great recommendation! My cat looks forward to it! I have a friend, several friends actually, who order it, and one of them sold me a bunch of rolls this week, so I can get started when I run out of my Safe packs. I do really love the ethos of the company, but I do admit to buying the Safe packs, usually in bulk when they were on sale for half price, because they were cheaper.. as we do..
Loz said…
Hi Jo

Sadly Who Gives A Crap also has a 6 pack product they sell in some stores which is wrapped in plastic. When I made an enquiry with them about this, this was their response:
Hi Loz,

Thanks for getting in touch!

Like every aspect of our toilet paper, we put a lot of thought into the packaging of our supermarket six roll packs. Although it may be counter-intuitive, we decided to use plastic instead of paper because it’s more environmentally friendly in this case. Here’s why:

Shipping and selling a product in stores requires durable packaging, and the paper wrappers we use in our online products wouldn’t hold up. Tearing of outer wrappers renders the product unsellable and creates a lot of excess wastage.

While it’s true that, per tonne, plastic is generally less environmentally sustainable than paper, to wrap the six rolls we’d need to use significantly more paper (by weight) to achieve the same outcome. This is because paper is heavier and nowhere near as strong as plastic. As a result, the environmental footprint of us using paper to wrap our six packs instead of plastic would actually be higher.

To further reduce our footprint, we’ve made our plastic oxo-biodegradable to ensure it breaks down quickly in the natural environment and won’t end up stuck in waterways, oceans, parks or bushland. What is oxo-biodegradable plastic? Glad you asked - check out more info here.

Please let us know if there's anything else.

Have a lovely afternoon!


I was quite disappointed with this response and I am awaiting a reply to my response back:
Sorry but you do know that plastic never completely breaks down don’t you? It just turns into microscopic pieces that still pollute our waterways and the earth. Even if biodegradable plastic ends up in landfill it doesn’t have tome to break down in the sun as more and more landfill is placed on top preventing the sun ever getting to it, it its then also squashed down to put more landfill on top which then does not allow oxygen in to also break particles down and toxics leach into the earth and methane gases are realised into the atmosphere, so while it’s cheaper for you to package in plastic these reasons lead me to believe that your carbon footprint would actually be higher.

However I haven’t found an alternative to a company going completely plastic free regarding toilet paper, so I will continue to order my boxes but with a disheartened heart.
Jo said…
Loz, really? I did not know they had started down the road of plastic wrap. Why, why add more plastic? Here is the thing - you can still buy flour and sugar wrapped in paper, so why not toilet paper? I would have thought that was a lot less liable to be damaged than sugar is.. Thanks for letting me know. I will send a letter with my next order letting them know what this customer thinks about their new ploy. I am glad to see you telling them what you think. I believe it is really the way to create change in companies. Let's have at them!

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