Toilet paper goes tube-free to be green

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    A roll of toilet paper

    - iStockPhoto

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    A farmer processes corn cobs.

    - China Photos/Getty Images

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    A goose preens its feathers.

    - Ali Al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images

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    A picture of Chinese toilet paper. While we don't know for certain who first used toilet paper, the first "official" TP was introduced in China in the 14th century. However, the first mention of toilet paper may date as far back as the 6th century.


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    Toilet paper rolls move down a conveyer belt for packaging.

    - Jeff T. Green/Getty Images

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    Scott's tube-free toilet paper.



KAI RYSSDAL: I wanted to take a minute to talk to y'all about, well, toilet paper. It's been the same for, oh, 100 years or so. But today the makers of Scott Tissue brought some change to the $9 billion dollar a year TP business. And in doing so, they say it's going to help save the planet.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Eve Troeh reports.

EVE TROEH: Scott's tube-free TP reinvents the roll, says brand manager Doug Daniels.

DOUG DANIELS: Kind of an A-ha moment.

The roll still has a hole, but he says eliminating the cardboard tube saves millions of tons of paper. And it lets consumers use all 440 sheets. Daniels says pricing tubeless paper the same as regular makes buyers more likely to "go green."

DANIELS: Consumers don't want to compromise to do something good for the environment, they're not there yet.

Environmental groups say the tubeless paper could be a lot greener. It doesn't use recycled paper, and it's wrapped in plastic.

Marketing consultant Maria Bailey says women buy most of the toilet paper in the U.S., and Scott's earth-friendliness is only part of the appeal.

MARIA BAILEY: An empty roll on a toilet paper hanger is just one of those little nemesis of a mom. So it's not only green, but it takes away one of those daily aggravations? It's gonna be very popular.

But, she says, no cardboard tube does pose some new problems -- like what to put in the hamster cage.

I'm Eve Troeh, for Marketplace.

See a slideshow that recounts the history of TP

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.


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