Some bamboo toilet paper contains only tiny amounts of bamboo


Some brands of bamboo toilet paper contain very little bamboo

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Eco-friendly toilet paper brands are selling bamboo loo roll containing as little as 3 per cent bamboo, according to UK consumer group Which?.

Unlike the trees that traditionally go into toilet paper, bamboo is a type of grass that can grow quickly even in poor soils, which means harvesting it does less long-term damage to the environment. For that reason, bamboo-based paper has earned a reputation as an eco-friendly alternative to regular loo roll. But fibre-composition testing suggests some toilet paper marketed as being made from bamboo is largely made using virgin wood pulp.

Which? assessed the grass fibre composition of loo rolls from five popular UK brands that claim their products are made from “bamboo only” or “100% bamboo”.

Samples from Bumboo contained just 2.7 per cent grass fibres, Naked Sprout paper contained 4 per cent grass fibres and Bazoo contained 26.1 per cent. Instead of bamboo, the toilet paper was predominantly made from virgin hardwoods including eucalyptus and acacia, Which? found. Acacia wood in particular has been linked to deforestation in South-East Asia.

Only two of the brands Which? tested, Who Gives a Crap and The Cheeky Panda, contained 100 per cent grass fibres.

Emily Seymour at Which? told New Scientist the results indicate that paper pulp supply chains are “murky”, but she stressed it is the responsibility of the toilet paper companies to make sure their products deliver on their sustainability claims. “Companies that are making green claims – the onus is on them to make sure they are selling what they say they are selling,” she says.

Life cycle analysis suggests bamboo pulp has a lower environmental footprint than virgin wood pulp, although recycled wood pulp is better than both. But if bamboo is not sustainably sourced, it can drive the deforestation of primary forests. Bumboo, Naked Sprout and Bazoo say they use bamboo certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), meaning it comes from forests that are being responsibly managed.

In response to the findings, Bumboo said the tests revealed a “fibre error” in its supply chain, affecting a small amount of stock. It said paper rolls are now tested from every production run, with the latest test results published on its website.

Bazoo said a batch of its paper was “contaminated” with wood in November 2023, but stressed it is “committed to delivering on our promise of 100 per cent bamboo rolls”. It said it is implementing stricter quality control measures and more frequent testing of its products.

Naked Sprout said it was “incredibly disappointed” by the Which? findings. It stressed its entire supply chain is FSC certified and said its supply chain data is now public, as part of a new policy of “radical transparency”.

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