Sustainable Bathroom and Facial Tissue
By Arthur Weissman President and CEO, Green Seal, Inc. | September 02, 2010
Bathroom and facial tissue products are ubiquitous and essential elements of all property guest rooms. Despite their small size and lowly function, they have very significant environmental impacts. They are also to some degree associated with performance and quality issues, and many properties take considerable care in selecting them to conform with their standards or decor. This article will attempt to demonstrate how environmental issues can be addressed satisfactorily in choosing tissue products without sacrificing performance or quality.
Just How Significant?
First, a word on the environmental significance of this category. When Green Seal conducted an analysis for the State of California on the most important categories of products it purchases from the perspective of environmental impact and potential improvement, bathroom tissue came out at the top! The reason is that the paper fiber used in most conventional tissue has high environmental impact both from its source (forests) and from the manufacturing process.
Many tissue products get their material from so-called virgin fiber, that is, fiber directly from trees that have been cut down and pulped. Some of these trees come from plantations, others from natural forests, including some old-growth forests that have high species diversity and valuable habitat. Even plantations specifically grown for fiber may have originally been natural forests. In any case, extracting virgin fiber causes loss of habitat and potential erosion, reduced water quality, and other problems.
The manufacturing process of converting virgin fiber to pulp and then tissue causes significant air and water pollution problems. Pulping itself releases large quantities of chemicals, and the bleaching process even more so. In particular, bleaching with chlorine has high impact: it is a potent chemical which combines with organic matter to form compounds such as dioxins and furans that are dangerous even in small amounts and can accumulate in the food chain. Thus, chlorine bleaching contributes to water pollution and can harm aquatic organisms.
Selecting Greener Tissue Paper