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Let's Talk About Toilet Paper
/ Categories: Datashred News, April

Let's Talk About Toilet Paper

Symbols of basic luxury, panic buying and how recycling will save us from ourselves


Why did we panic buy toilet paper?

The government told the UK not to panic-buy amid the start of the coronavirus crisis. Yet, a lot of people did the exact opposite. Emptying supermarket shelves of tinned goods, pasta, rice, and toilet paper.

Experts, such as Dr Dimitrios Tsivrios from University College London, said there are different types of panic buying. And this was a sign of general panic rather than disaster panic. With disaster panic, you usually have more information. For example, with expected heavy rain which will cause flooding. You know roughly when it will happen. How long it will last for etc. But with general panic, such as this health crisis the details are vaguer. Hence the more general panic mode, and the tendency to buy much more than we need to feel in control. 

The panic buying should reduce after 4-6 weeks. As our brain has time to think more rationally about the situation. 

Toilet paper is prone to panic buying because of its shelf life. And because of its size. It is much easier to see when toilet roll stock is getting low, than for example medicine. Due to the amount of shelf space it takes. So, low stocks tend to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Recycled toilet paper

We recycle everything we destroy at Datashred. We have a zero-landfill policy. And while we destroy everything from handbags to hard drives, the vast majority of what we shred is paper.

Approximately 49% of the nation’s annual recycling comes from secure shredding. If we did not recycle that would be a lot more paper for the landfill. But also, a lot less recycled paper.

Your paperwork is finely shredded then baled together before recycling. We deliver these bails to our trusted paper mill. The mill soaks the bales in soapy water to remove any glue residue. To remove ink, the paper pulp is injected with air, making the ink rise to the top in a foam. This foam is then removed with a skimmer and the pulp is now ink-free. 

The paper is then reduced into a mashed slurry along with other paper waste that arrives at the mill. 

Next, the water is squeezed out by passing the pulp through rollers. This dries it out and allows the pulp to absorb bleaching chemicals. Revolving knives cut the dried-out pulp. Then the chemicals make the grey pulp clean and white. 

After bleaching, the pulp is spread on a flat-screen. It dries into a delicate paper in less than a second using a special dryer. 

When making toilet paper, it is then rolled onto a large spool to be ready for embossing. Patterns are embossed on the paper to thicken it, which improves absorbency.

Endless cardboard tubes are also produced in many paper mills. Where the toilet paper can be added to create the final product.
The rolls are automatically sealed with glue to stop them from unwinding. Then the long roll is sliced into individual rolls of the correct width.
From here it is packaged and sent off to distributors.


The UK uses 1.3m tonnes of tissue a year, according to the Confederation of Paper Industries. The average British consumer reportedly getting through 127 rolls every year.

Toilet paper is a symbol of a basic luxury that we do not want to live without. But it also affordable and long-lasting. So as a nation, we are drawn to bulk buying when everything else feels out of control. Like during the coronavirus crisis.

Confidential destruction is an essential part of the supply chain for recycled toilet paper. Allowing us to conserve our trees. It reduces the emissions that would be produced by this paper going into landfill. It also takes 60 per cent less energy to manufacture paper from recycled stock than from virgin materials.