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Renewing our commitment to Mother Earth

Renewing our commitment to Mother Earth

Founded in response to an industry that required reinvention, we remain committed to change. This month, we acknowledge our tenth year of certification under Toitū Envirocare and renew our commitment as a Climate Positive Organisation
. In 2021, we were the first toilet paper company to get there, and we did so by reimagining what the toilet paper business could look like, utilising 100% FSC® certified bamboo, removing plastic from our packaging and choosing the right partners throughout our supply chain. 

We wanted to produce toilet paper that was not only better for our bodies but also better for the environment, and a lot of people wanted that, too. Public expectations for environmental protection are rising. We all have the Internet and are making these connections and becoming more informed of our chemical world and manufacturing processes and how these, to varying degrees, contribute to ecological degradation and human health issues. Increasingly, public opinion regarding plastic pollution has shaped governmental environmental policy, and litigation came with the government committing to phasing out hard-to-recycle plastics in 2022. 

What does toilet paper have to do with climate change?

In our context of living in the rise of consumerism, growing population and climate change, materials play a vital role in reducing emissions and environmental impacts. We must prioritise and use materials that are carbon-negative. In the same way, it is key to turn all waste into a new resource (circular economy). Our earth is abundant in carbon-negative materials that can act like temporary carbon sinks during their life span whilst providing other important benefits. Luckily for us, our biosphere offers a vast pool of such material possibilities, including algae, fungi, and bamboo, all of which provide multiple possibilities for fast carbon cycle management.

Compared with tree species from similar regions, sustainably managed bamboo forests present a higher ability and higher efficiency for carbon sequestration and biomass accumulation. This approach is critical to alleviating pressure on the environment. In recent research published in the paper: Bamboo as a Nature-Based Solution for Climate Change Mitigation: Biomass, Products, and Carbon Credits, the authors state that “Harvested bamboo culms are processed into various products, including bamboo flooring, panels, and furniture are suitable substitutes for more carbon-intensive productions. When the emissions from transportation and production are minimised, the life cycles of these products are carbon-negative. Most studies highlight that bamboo species generally act as carbon sinks rather than carbon sources. The authors of this paper explain how bamboo products exhibit net-negative carbon emissions:

“Bamboo is a fast-growing species with high annual regrowth after harvesting. This unique nature of bamboo accounts for its strong biomass accumulating capacity: carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is transformed into biomass via photosynthesis, increasing the carbon sink capacity of the bamboo ecosystem, especially for bamboo during the early growth period.”

Read more: Why our toilet paper is 100% FSC® certified bamboo

Bamboo as a net-negative carbon material

A typical bamboo shoot grows into full culm height within two to four months at a maximum rate of 90–120 cm per day. Bamboo forests have short rotation times: the harvest cycle ranges from two to four years. Most timber species have a sustainable harvesting interval of 30 to 40 years. Conventional toilet paper uses a mix of woods, mainly pines, eucalyptus, and Douglas-firs. According to species data accessible via the Forest Owners Association New Zealand Plantation Forest Industry Guides, F., 2020 - 2021. Facts and Figures. [online], the approximate harvest age over the past five years (Pinus radiata 29.1 years, Douglas-fir 40 years, Cyprus 34 years, and Eucalyptus 21 years).

Bamboo can be a unique carbon storage resource that exceeds many other woody crops as long as annual selective harvesting does not damage total carbon sequestration and the ecosystem. Harvested bamboo can be made into durable products, which further store carbon for the long term. Most bamboo products exhibit net-negative carbon emissions, thus contributing to long-term carbon sequestration. However, the research scope is limited to the lifecycle analysis of products rather than how much carbon can be reduced based on the scale of a bamboo forest, as the whole forest can yield bamboo timbers for all types of products. Future research on product carbon pools at the bamboo forest scale is needed for optimal forest management and to enhance the product carbon pool calculation in bamboo carbon projects. Currently, non-wood products represent just 10% of all paper production. Many forms of pollution and poor environmental management reflect under-utilised or wasted resources. 

Read more: Why we make toilet paper without plastic

The future 

Voluntary environmental reporting is growing, and regulations will become more demanding, placing public pressure on companies to get up to speed on environmental management. We continue measuring and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, guided by science-based targets. We invest in emission avoidance projects and offset our emissions by 125%, which will help us all hit our 2050 climate targets. Our partnership with Toitū Envirocare ensures our efforts are audited and accurate.

A lot of us believe that the choices we make every day can add up, and it is these shifts in buyer behaviour, where and with what companies we spend our money, that sends market signals. It can be easy to get discouraged by the scale of our waste and climate issues, but there are very real solutions available to us. The foods we choose to eat, how we power our homes or get to work, and the products we use in our homes, including our toilet paper, can all have, over time, a hugely positive impact in many ways on our carbon footprint, our air quality, water quality, our health. Our future. So thank you for reading and for your support.