Is Toilet Paper Biodegradable? (And Compostable?)

Toilet paper makes life easier. It has many use cases, which is why it has a global market of $97.97 billion.

Toilet paper is an indispensable item in the household. According to statistics, Americans use too many rolls of toilet paper to not care about how its usage affects the environment.

Does toilet paper biodegrade? If it does, how long does the process take? We will answer these questions in this blog post, so let’s get started.

Does Toilet Paper Biodegrade?

Yes, toilet paper biodegrades. It was designed to be flushed down a toilet, and this happens seamlessly because the fibers have been created to break down when water contacts them. Toilet paper is made from virgin wood pulp, a renewable resource with an organic nature. But even if you throw it to the ground, natural decomposition agents act on it without delay.

For a material to qualify as biodegradable, it should break down within the shortest time when exposed to natural decomposition elements like microbes, water, air, and heat.

Toilet paper does not hold up against biodegradation. It will break down so fast you will barely know it was even there in the first place.

Toilet paper is biodegradable because of what it is made from. Toilet paper is a product of trees or wood, one organic matter that breaks down easily.

Furthermore, the biodegradation process does not harm the environment. Before you know it, microbes will decompose it to humus or soil.

You can also make toilet paper from recycled paper, which is also biodegradable because no synthetic additive is added to throw the natural composition off balance. Therefore, most toilet papers will break down fast in the septic tank.

On the other hand, decomposition may take longer, much longer. There is a difference between biodegradation and decomposition. The former occurs when the right factors are put together deliberately; breakdown occurs at a controlled and faster rate.

On the other hand, decomposition usually happens, by chance, perhaps. It means you don’t deliberately bring together the proper factors, tweak, or create a condition where natural elements like microbes are invited to colonize the item.

Therefore, don’t be surprised if a roll of toilet paper ends up in a landfill and remains there for decades. There is a difference between a surface area with lots of waste waiting to break down and an environment where the soil is rich enough, has adequate moisture, the temperature is just right, and the aeration is remarkable.

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Without these, you may return to find that toilet paper is where you left it. And it doesn’t help matters when some synthetic additives like dye or coloring have been added.

Is Recycled Toilet Paper Biodegradable?

Yes, even recycled toilet paper is biodegradable. It is made from natural pulp fibers, so even when it goes through the recycling machine, nothing much is altered from its structure. Nothing is added to make it nonbiodegradable, so it retains its environmentally friendly form. However, it may not break down as fast as it should if you don’t dispose of it properly.

Toilet paper crumbles when it is faced with just enough water. Sometimes, it breaks down completely, while other times, the fibers may scrunch together, and when the result dries, you have a hardened area, much like paper.

Toilet paper and paper are made from the same materials. This is a no-brainer. Trees are felled for producing these essential products, and although that is not our most sustainable option, the environmental impacts while decomposition occurs are more sensitive.

In other words, recycled toilet paper is still made from paper. This is one sustainable way to reduce the way we fell trees.

The one good thing that erupts from our civilized society’s desire for the comfort and ease of using toilet paper is that we can also use recycled fibers to make more toilet paper, thereby reducing number of trees we fell.

Fortunately, the new product is also biodegradable, which means less stress for the environment when this item has served its purpose.

How Long Does Toilet Paper Take to Decompose?

It depends on where it is breaking down. A roll of toilet paper in a landfill may take two centuries to break down. Depending on the environmental conditions, it may also take 1 year to 3 years. And in a septic tank, toilet paper will break down in about three years. There is also biodegradable toilet paper which decomposes in a month to two.

Toilet paper is an item we all use often. Therefore, it has become imperative to consider its effects on our environment. Made from wood pulp or fibers, the biodegradation process will undoubtedly be friendly to biodiversity.

If it is biodegradable toilet paper, it breaks down faster because this product has shorter fibers, designed so that bacteria and fungi responsible for decomposition will find the process easier. A smaller surface means less work, so the material will be gone within five weeks to a couple of months!

On the other hand, other types of toilet paper that are not specially designed to be biodegradable will take longer, depending on the wood they are made from. Remember, we have softwood and hardwood; naturally, one requires a longer time for decomposition to take place.

dog-covered-with-toilet-paper

Is Toilet Paper Bad For the Environment?

Unfortunately, toilet paper is bad for the environment. Although it will break down when exposed to the right factors, toilet paper does not come from the best source material. Manufacturers of toilet paper cut down 27,000 trees daily to produce tons of toilet paper, and 42 million tons are consumed annually. A considerable portion of our trees goes into making toilet paper.

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The environmental impact of using toilet paper is more severe than you think. For one, deforestation is necessary to make toilet paper. And you know the extra soft wads you love so much, well, they are made from virgin forest fiber.

Here is a not-so-fun fact – 384 trees are felled to get the amount of toilet paper one toilet paper user uses throughout his life. And daily, north of 84 million rolls are manufactured.

Since it takes trees far more than a year to mature, our consumption rate is alarming. Additionally, trees are nonrenewable resources, and believe it or not; we can run out of them.

Although toilet paper has a redeeming feature in terms of environmental impact, the sacrifices we make for comfort may be extreme. It is important to remember that toilet paper is an optional luxury we should indulge in occasionally.

There are more eco-friendly options if you truly want to save the environment.

Is Toilet Paper Compostable?

Yes, toilet paper is compostable. It is made from trees, which are organic matter. Therefore, toilet paper will break down in two to six months in an anaerobic or aerobic condition.

Technology is perhaps our redeeming quality as humans. Regardless of the effects of our industrial activities on the environment, we constantly strive to make all-round improvements.

For instance, who would have thought there would be a composting toilet for more beneficial and uniform fecal waste disposal? Well, there are several types, commonly known as dry toilets.

You can throw your toilet paper there if you use one of them. Toilet paper will biodegrade in this environment. Depending on oxygen availability, it can happen within two weeks or take up to six months.

Without oxygen, toilet paper will break down more slowly, while an aerobic condition hastens the process.

If you don’t have a composting toilet, you can throw your used toilet paper into the compost pile or bin. One of the factors that will determine how fast it will break down is the presence of bleach and the type used.

Is Charmin Toilet Paper Biodegradable?

Yes, Charmin toilet paper is biodegradable. Given that it is made from natural wood fiber, it will break down like a dead tree because that is essentially what it is. Even toilet paper made from recycled paper will undoubtedly give in to biodegradation agents in no time.

Charmin Ultra Soft Cushiony Touch Toilet Paper, 24 Family Mega Rolls = 123 Regular Rolls,8 count(pack of 3)

Do you love comfort and luxury? Well, it will reflect in your taste in toilet paper.

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And you know a famous brand renowned for soft, high-quality toilet paper? Charmin!

However, is it good for the environment? Will it break down naturally? As we know, we cannot recycle toilet paper for obvious reasons. 

So, the next best bet for the ecosystem would be composting, which is possible because Charmin toilet paper is biodegradable. Whether you are caught by surprise in the woods or looking to go from the comfort of your bathroom, rest assured that Charmin rolls will break down within months to a year wherever the sheets end up.

Is Angel Soft Toilet Paper Biodegradable?

Yes! Angel Soft toilet paper is biodegradable. It also lacks additives and chemicals that may pollute the contents of a compost pile or, even worse, delay the decomposition process. For instance, if toilet paper contains a substance like chlorine dioxide, popularly used to bleach toilet paper, it extends the decomposition duration.

Angel Soft® Toilet Paper, 48 Mega Rolls = 192 Regular Rolls, 2-Ply Bath Tissue

Angel Soft toilet paper is another popular option if you want your butt pampered. The soft and thick quality may be indispensable for a bathroom visit outdoors or the comfort of your four walls.

Fortunately, we can compost the used toilet paper in our dry toilets, flush them down a regular toilet, or save them for our compost bins.

Is Bamboo Toilet Paper Biodegradable?

Yes, bamboo toilet paper is biodegradable. Again, bamboo qualifies as previously living matter, which makes it organic and capable of becoming humus, water, and oxygen, the end products of biodegradation. Furthermore, when enough water comes in contact with bamboo toilet paper, it breaks down and dissipates almost immediately.

Therefore, it is safe to say that bamboo toilet paper is a safe option for the environment.

Betterway Bamboo Toilet Paper 3 PLY - Eco Friendly, Sustainable Toilet Tissue - 12 Double Rolls & 360 Sheets Per Roll - Septic Safe - Organic, Plastic Free, Compostable & Biodegradable - FSC Certified

A bamboo is also a sustainable option for manufacturing toilet paper; it breaks down into humus, just like other brands of toilet paper.

Is Costco Toilet Paper Biodegradable?

Certainly, Costco toilet paper is biodegradable. Like other brands that manufacture toilet paper, Costco also uses trees, which are organic matter. Now, unless some other substances are added to the toilet paper, it is safe to assume that it is biodegradable and will break down in a septic tank or outdoors in nature.

Is Cottonelle Toilet Paper Biodegradable?

Yes! Cottonelle toilet paper is also biodegradable. It is a septic tank and sewer-safe, so you needn’t worry about clogged pipes. When Cottonelle toilet paper touches water, the fibers break down immediately.

Cottonelle Ultra Clean Toilet Paper with Active CleaningRipples Texture, Strong Bath Tissue, 24 Family Mega Rolls (24 Family Mega Rolls = 132 Regular Rolls) (4 Packs of 6 Rolls) 388 Sheets per Roll

Is Kirkland Toilet Paper Biodegradable?

Again, Kirkland toilet paper is also biodegradable. This affordable option also provides comfort. The best part is that it is made of recycled fiber—less consumption of resources without sacrificing comfort or the safety of the ecosystem.

Kirkland Signature 2-Ply Bath Tissue, 30 Rolls

Conclusion

Toilet paper biodegrades easily because it is organic matter. It has been designed to disintegrate upon contact with water, and out there, in nature, it will break down fast.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.