Septic Safe Toilet Paper vs Plastic Free: What’s the Difference?

If like many people, you’re on the hunt for sustainable alternatives to the products you use every day, you may have started exploring the new options for eco-friendly toilet paper on the market. While people with access to a city sewer system may never give any thought to the type of toilet paper they buy besides wanting to support sustainable products, people with septic systems know that not all toilet paper is created equal. Septic safe toilet paper is a special kind of toilet paper that is needed for septic systems and works best in recreational vehicles, boats, and other contained waste systems. If you’re looking to make more sustainable choices but want to make sure you don’t clog up your septic system in the process, here’s what you need to know about the differences between septic safe toilet paper and plastic-free toilet paper. 


What Qualities Does Plastic Free Toilet Paper Have?

Have you ever tried to find toilet paper that doesn’t contain plastic in any of its packagings? If you have, you know what a frustrating exercise that experience can be. Today, as toilet paper is increasingly purchased in bulk at bulk warehouses, the 48-packs of traditional toilet paper may be broken into four individually wrapped packs of six rolls that are then wrapped again in plastic into the larger package. All of that single-use plastic is damaging to the environment and sits in landfills for thousands of years. Plastic free toilet paper is sold without any plastic packaging. It’s often wrapped in thin paper to prevent moisture and contamination, and rolls are sold by the box instead of wrapped in plastic. Plastic free toilet paper is not necessarily produced in a sustainable or eco-friendly way, but many companies who are trying to eliminate the use of single use plastics do incorporate sustainable elements into other aspects of production.


What Qualities Does Septic Safe Toilet Paper Have?

Unlike plastic free toilet paper, septic safe toilet paper may or may not come wrapped in plastic and it may or may not be produced sustainably. The most important element of septic safe toilet paper is the ability to dissolve quickly. Septic tanks and other contained waste systems have a finite amount of space, which means that toilet paper must dissolve quickly in order to avoid a clog or other costly repairs. The sooner the tank gets full, the sooner it will need to be pumped, and if not caught quickly enough, the overflow can back up into your home. Septic safe toilet paper will state on the packaging that it is either designed for septic systems or is biodegradable. Both labels indicate that the toilet paper will break down quickly, preventing costly clogs in your septic tank.


Septic safe toilet paper is also noticeably thinner in texture than traditional toilet paper and some types of plastic free toilet paper, because it is designed to dissolve more quickly. Septic tanks do not have agitators or compactors that help break down toilet paper and waste, so the toilet paper must be able to dissolve on its own. However, just because a toilet paper is thick and soft doesn’t mean it’s not septic-safe; bamboo toilet paper is thicker and softer than regular toilet paper, but is also biodegradable, even when it is triple-ply, which means it is septic safe.


Plastic free toilet paper and septic safe toilet paper aren’t necessarily the same thing, but it is possible to find brands that incorporate elements of both! Bamboo toilet paper is plastic free, produced sustainably, and is biodegradable, making it septic safe. Even better? It’s soft and strong.


Alex is the co-author of 100 Greatest Plays, 100 Greatest Cricketers, 100 Greatest Films and 100 Greatest Moments. He has written for a wide variety of publications including The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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