Toilet paper

When nature calls, which loo roll should you reach for?

Rolls of toilet paper on blue background.

You’ll be relieved to know you don't have to spend big for loo rolls that are both strong and soft. But taking care of your bottom line is not the only thing to bear in mind, with ply count and green claims factors to consider too.

What to consider

Two- or three-ply?

“Ply” refers to the number of layers of paper. Products with three layers are generally stronger and softer than two-ply products.

Eco credentials

Check the packaging for the following information:

Recycled content: Recycling paper is less harmful to the environment and uses less energy (and fewer trees) than turning virgin wood into paper.

Bamboo and sugar cane: Using “alternative” raw materials, such as fast-growing bamboo or sugar cane, also reduces the need to fell trees. However, the green credentials of the toilet paper will depend on how the plants were harvested and processed.

Sustainably sourced paper: If your toilet rolls are made from virgin paper, check whether the fibre comes from a sustainably managed forest. The two main certification schemes are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Both schemes also certify products with recycled content. Our test results identify which products have FSC or PEFC certification.

Ecolabels: Products with an Environmental Choice New Zealand tick have met the scheme’s environmental performance criteria. These cover the product’s manufacture and packaging. Environmental Choice is a government-backed ecolabel.  

Elemental chlorine-free (ECF) bleaching: Paper has to be bleached to make it white but elemental chlorine gas by-products can be harmful. “ECF” means that a safer chlorine compound was used.

Pack size: Bulk packs and jumbo or king-sized rolls require less packaging and cut down on transportation resources. The downside to jumbo rolls is that they don’t fit all toilet roll holders.

Packaging: Most toilet paper is packaged in thin plastic. This plastic can probably be recycled but you’ll need to check if recycling facilities are available in your area. Some manufacturers are starting to use paper, which can be placed in your kerbside recycling bin or at recycling depots. The cardboard inner cores can also be recycled.

Features: Prints, scent, embossing and quilting are added for aesthetic reasons. Embossing and quilting require a small amount of glue and may provide extra comfort, as may lotion. These features require extra steps and resources, which all have an environmental cost. Hypoallergenic products don’t contain inks, fragrances or glue.

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We've tested 26 toilet papers.

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How we test toilet paper

How we test toilet paper

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How we test toilet paper

It’s important to know if a strong product’s going to be tough to tear. And if it’s quick to disintegrate in water, will it puncture at the wrong time?

Find out how we test

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