17 billion. That’s the number of toilet-roll tubes that get thrown away every year, according to Kimberly-Clark, the household products giant. It’s enough to fill the Empire State Building twice over, and more than enough for the nation’s landfills, where most of the waste ends up.
One solution? Do without the tube.
The Texas-based company recently unveiled a tubeless toilet paper roll that it says will significantly reduce the impact on the environment. Sold under the Scott brand, it slips on to a normal holder, and stays in place until the paper runs out.
“You just put it on the spindle like regular bath tissue. And when you get to that last sheet, it just rolls off. There’s no wasted cardboard tube left behind,” explained brand manager Jared Mackrory to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
To promote its innovation, Kimberly-Clark commissioned a 30-foot replica Empire State model—the sort of thing you might have tried to build as a six-year-old. It also launched a social media campaign, asking people to #tossthetube.
The roll, which is available nationwide at Walmart, has a misshapen, non-round center, so it doesn’t spool as easily as today’s technology. But it doesn’t cost any more to either the manufacturer or customer, the company says.
It seems like a straightforward way to reduce waste, though toilet paper itself still comes with plenty of ecological baggage. If you really want to go green in the bathroom, get a bidet. The French have been using them for years.