Can You Recycle Toilet Paper? (Find Out Now!)

Jennifer Eggerton
by Jennifer Eggerton

Toilet paper is a critical part of our every day, and much of it is simply flushed down the toilet. As we look for ways to protect the environment, toilet paper is the subject of many recycling discussions. After all, it is paper, so can you recycle toilet paper?

Toilet paper cannot be recycled. It is made with low-grade or recycled paper. Donate extra toilet paper. Share it with friends and family. Add it to your compost. Flushed toilet paper is broken down by chemicals and cannot be recycled. Cardboard toilet paper rolls are recyclable. Repurpose the cardboard roll. Make a wreath, confetti poppers, or a birdfeeder.

Let’s take a closer look at this popular paper product, how it’s made, and what to do with extra toilet paper.

Toilet Paper Facts

The average person uses 20,000 sheets of this commodity every year. This rate of consumption requires 27,000 trees per day to keep up with the demand. In the United States alone, manufacturers make an estimated 7 billion rolls of toilet paper. That equates to 28 pounds of paper per person.

The Problems with Paper

The paper industry, including the making of toilet paper, represents the 6th largest sector that contributes to greenhouse gases. Additionally, it represents 40% of all deforestation. In 2015, the paper industry was the second largest contributor to air pollution. Paper products represent more than 25% of waste in landfills.

Of the total number of trees used for all paper products, toilet paper represents 15,000,000 trees per year. With each person averaging 20,000 sheets per year, that’s 384 trees over a lifetime.

Toilet paper not only contributes to the loss of trees. Making paper products also requires water. Approximately 3 gallons of water is needed for a single sheet of paper. For every 2,000 pounds of paper, manufacturers use 380 gallons of water.

Toilet Paper Recycled Content

Modern toilet paper products are made with a combination of virgin tree pulp, hemp plants, and recycled paper. Some manufacturers use only 100% recycled paper for their toilet paper products. This is good news, as it helps to reduce the number of trees that are cut down each year.

Unfortunately, this only represents a small part of the overall toilet paper industry. Most companies use no recycled paper. Toilet paper made from recycled paper only represents 2% of the total production.

Can You Recycle Toilet Paper?

Toilet paper that is flushed down the toilet is treated at the sanitation plant. Chemicals are used to break down the mushy paper and other solids. This forms a slurry that is eventually taken to the landfill. Because the toilet paper is mixed with other organic substances, it cannot be recycled.

Why Can’t Toilet Paper Be Recycled?

Regardless if your toilet paper is from 100% recycled paper or virgin tree pulp, it cannot be recycled even if it is unused. The quality of the resultant paper pulp is too low to be useful for making other products.

Can You Recycle Toilet Paper Rolls?

Toilet paper rolls, on the other hand, can be recycled. They are made from cardboard, and this product is 100% recyclable. Save those toilet paper rolls, and put them in the recycle bin. It makes a small, yet significant, impact on the amount of paper we use every year.

Toilet Paper Roll Crafts

Not only can you recycle toilet paper rolls, but you can also use them for crafts. Here are some great ways to repurpose empty toilet paper rolls.

Make a Wreath

Create a wreath with your old toilet paper rolls. Add in some bright ornaments, dried flowers, and artificial leaves.

Confetti Poppers

Tie a knot in the stem of a 9” balloon, and cut off the top. Put it over one end of the toilet paper roll, and secure it with tape. Fill the tube with confetti, and stand it upright. Pull the stem of the balloon, and let it go. Confetti flies into the air.

Bird Feeder

Tie a string to each end of the toilet paper roll. Roll it in peanut butter and bird seed. Hang it in a tree in your garden.

How to Dispose of That Extra Toilet Paper

Everyone needs toilet paper! If you have extra toilet paper, consider donating it or giving it to someone in need. Make sure that the package is unopened.

How to Use Toilet Paper in Compost

Used and unused toilet paper can be used in compost. You can install a composting toilet. Some models have openings for solids and another for liquids. Put the toilet paper in the side for solids.

Toilet paper that has just a bit of liquid waste (i.e., urine) on it can be used in your compost pile. Only do so, though, as long as the person who produced the wee is healthy.

Ways to Reduce Toilet Paper Use

Because toilet paper cannot be recycled, the best way to protect the environment is to use less. Only use what is absolutely necessary for staying clean. Don’t use toilet paper for wiping up spills or blowing your nose. Use it only for its intended purpose

Toilet Paper Game

One way to get everyone in your household interested in using less toilet paper is to make a game of it. Each week, ask everyone to take enough sheets off the roll for a week. The goal is to have sheets left over at the end of the week. Whoever has the most sheets wins a prize.

You can modify the game to where everyone takes what they need, and then has to perform one chore for each sheet.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Toilet Paper

There are quite a few toilet paper alternatives that are friendly to the environment and your tush. One option is to use specially designed cloths made from organic cotton. You can wash the cloth after each use. Bamboo toilet paper is another sustainable alternative. It looks and feels like toilet paper, and it is safe for your septic system. Bamboo grows much faster than trees, so the raw product is replenished to meet demand.

Related Questions

Can you flush baby wipes?

You can’t flush baby wipes. They don’t break down like paper products and clog the pipes.


Toilet paper is not recyclable, but you can recycle the cardboard rolls. You can still take steps to protect the environment. Use less. Donate what you don’t need. Purchase toilet paper that is made with eco-friendly bamboo.

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Jennifer Eggerton
Jennifer Eggerton

Jennifer L. Eggerton loves being hands-on, whether it's with a home DIY project, making repairs, re-decorating a room, or keeping life organized. She enjoys helping people by sharing her knowledge, insights, and experiences, as well as her lessons learned. In addition to her work as a writer, Jennifer is a Jeep® overlander, self-published author, and nature photographer who loves being outdoors.

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