Tree Loss for Paper (2A)

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Tree Loss for Paper (2A)

While one publication states that 270,000 trees are cut down for toilet tissue every day, other estimates are as high as 1.9 million trees lost to toilet paper each day. Below are these estimates.

Number of Trees Cut Down for Toilet Paper

  • Although ACHNews reports that 270,000 trees are lost to toilet paper every day, this appears to be a low number.
  • Industry experts estimate that one tree can be used to produce 100 pounds of toilet paper that each weigh about 0.5 pounds each.
  • Globally, the toilet paper consumption per capita is four kilograms or about nine pounds of toilet paper per year.
  • There are currently about 7.8 billion people in the world and if each person uses nine pounds of toilet paper each year, this would mean that the world consumes about 70.2 billion pounds of toilet paper each year.
  • If each tree produces an average of 100 pounds of toilet paper, this means that 702,000,000 trees are used for toilet paper each year.
  • On a daily basis, this would mean that 1,923,288 trees are cut down for toilet paper each day.

Additional Data

  • Americans use 34 million rolls of toilet paper every day, which is the most of any country.
  • A 2019 report from National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that Americans make up just 4% of the world's population, but use 20% of the world's toilet paper.
  • The United States has an annual per capita toilet paper consumption of 141 rolls. Germany is second with a per capita consumption of 134 rolls, followed by the UK at 127 rolls and Japan at 91 rolls.
  • The annual 141 rolls per person used in the United States equates to about 28 pounds of toilet paper per person or 9.2 billion pounds total per year.
  • If Americans use 141 rolls of toilet paper per capita per year, then the original estimate of each person globally using 132 rolls of toilet paper a week was extremely high.

Research Strategy

Although one publication from ACHNews provided the number of trees cut down per day for toilet paper, other sources indicated that figure is low. Using data points from other sources, including the average pounds of toilet paper that can be made from a single tree and the annual per capita consumption of toilet paper, we calculated a far higher number. Since the actual number of pounds of toilet paper that one tree can make varies based on numerous factors such as the size and shape of the tree, the actual number of trees attributed to toilet paper is challenging. In fact, scientists say that the mass of a tree, which is a critical factor in how much toilet paper it can produce, can be affected by drying or by the type of tree. Therefore, the estimates provided are only rough numbers.

Calculations

To find the number of pounds of toilet paper consumed globally, we multiplied the nine-pound per capita number by 7.8 billion (the global population) to get 70.2 billion.

To determine how many trees are used to make 70.2 billion pounds of toilet paper, we divided 70.2 billion by 100, which is the average pounds of toilet paper produced by a single tree. This gave us 702 million trees per year.

To find the number of trees cut down each day for toilet paper, we divided 702,000,000 by 365 (the number of days in a year) to get 1,923,287 trees per day.
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