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What are the environmental impacts of its production and disposal? Are there better alternatives?
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Cons

  • Deforestation (to create paper pulp): According to Paper on the Rocks, an area roughly the size of the Netherlands is deforested each year to make paper products.
  • Pollution: Paper mills produce solid waste matter that can end up polluting soil and water sources.
  • Energy use: The World Counts states that the paper industry is the world’s 5th biggest consumer of energy. Energy is required to produce kitchen roll, transport the finished product, and transport any waste it produces (unless the waste kitchen roll is home composted).
  • Water use: According to The World Counts, paper products (including kitchen roll) are water-intensive to produce, with 10 litres required just to produce one sheet of A4.
  • Plastic waste: Kitchen roll often comes wrapped in soft plastic that ends up in landfill.
  • Non-recyclable: In the UK, used kitchen roll is non-recyclable. A study by the British Science Association, as quoted by The Guardian, found that used kitchen roll was commonly believed by the British public to be recyclable, leading to contaminated recycling loads. The cardboard tubes inside kitchen rolls are, however, widely recycled.

The easiest way to reduce the impact your kitchen roll use has on the environment is to use less of it or stop purchasing it altogether. A more environmentally-friendly alternative would be to use reusable cloths as opposed to single-use rolls. In order to minimise the environmental impact even further, you could make reusable cloths out of old clothes and fabrics.

  

Bibliography

'What is the environmental impact of deforestation for paper production?' (Paper on the Rocks, 2020)

Smithers, R., 'Dirty kitchen roll among the things Britons wrongly think they can recycle' (The Guardian, March 2018)

'What to do with kitchen roll' (The Waste and Resources Action Programme, 2020)

'A useful but wasteful product' (The World Counts, 2020)

What Is More Eco Friendly-Home Composting or Council Food Waste Collection?” (OneSharedEarth, March 2019)

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