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Will Tubeless Toilet Paper Prevent Waste? Will Tubeless Toilet Paper Prevent Waste?

Will Tubeless Toilet Paper Prevent Waste?

by Alissa Walker
October 30, 2010

Can eradicating those cardboard cylinders at the center of our toilet paper rolls eliminate a substantial amount of waste? It can according to Kimberly-Clark, who says the United States produces 17 billion toilet paper tubes a year, a staggering 160 million pounds of trash. That's why Kimberly-Clark announced in today's USA Today that it's now making tube-free toilet paper for its Scott Natural brand.

Just this small effort will reduce waste in the sense that it tackles a behavioral problem: Most people don't take the effort to recycle or compost that little cardboard cylinder at the center of the roll. But I'm hoping Kimberly-Clark will go ahead and incorporate this technology into all their rolls, not just the "natural" brand: The people who are looking to purchase brands labeled "natural" are already more likely to recycle or compost.

The technology is actually not that revolutionary, according to a spokesperson—they're already using tubeless rolls for their corporate clients. However, what struck me in the USA Today article was that Kimberly-Clark isn't willing to discuss how they do it, saying only that it's a "special winding process." The right thing to do as a responsible company would be to share the technology with other companies in the hopes that it could quickly roll out throughout the entire industry—but maybe the open-source approach doesn't fly in the TP biz.

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