*This feature is not sponsored or paid for in any way by Greencane Paper or any other invested party
Paper products like tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels are probably things we don’t really think about too much when it comes to making sustainable choices. They’re those constant purchases we make that a lot of us overlook in our journey to more sustainable living. However, a lot of the regular toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels we find in our supermarkets are made of fibers from timber - a valuable resource that is also used for furniture and homewares. The founders of Greencane Paper questioned why we use this valuable resource to make relatively low-value items such as toilet paper when sustainable alternatives exist. When you look at the big picture, it does seem quite egregious that mature trees are being cut down for us to use as basic cleaning materials.
This is why Greencane Paper was born. The founders launched it in an effort to show the market that there are more sustainable alternatives to their usual supermarket brands. They also make their products suitable for big business orders so that businesses have the option of purchasing sustainable alternatives for their usual paper cleaning products as well.
We reached out to a Greencane brand representative to get to know the brand more and here’s what we learned.
Greencane Paper is an independent company that is wholly owned by New Zealanders Geoff and Helen Arden. It was established in 2010 with the goal of saving trees by offering alternative paper product options. The company is based in New Zealand but is also available in the UK, Europe, and Australia, with each country operating on a legal standalone basis. This means they support the local economies of the countries they operate in, give back to the community, and do not dodge their tax obligations.
INGREDIENTS & RAW MATERIALS
Greencane toilet paper is made of a combination of bamboo and recycled sugarcane pulp (a byproduct of sugar production). For every tonne of recycled sugar cane pulp they use, 17 trees are saved. Not one tree is touched in the production of Greencane toilet paper.
As for their facial tissues and paper towels, Greencane uses 80% of their bamboo and recycled sugarcane mix and 20% timber fiber as they have found it to be necessary to ensure material strength. They are, however, working to minimise the use of timber fiber.
Both sugarcane and bamboo are fast-growing tropical crops that are farm-harvested annually. The ones Greencane uses in their products are grown in Southern China in their ideal growing climate. This means there is no need for artificial fertilizers as well as chemical pest control as these plants already have a strong natural pest resilience in their natural environment. The way these plants are harvested is by only removing the growth part, leaving the rhizome root system intact for next year’s crop to grow from. These are the reasons bamboo and sugarcane, especially gown and harvested like this, have a lower environmental impact than forestry.
They also do not use any fragrances in any of their products.
SOURCING & MANUFACTURING
Greencane manufactures its products close to where their raw materials are grown - Southern China. (More than 60% of the world’s sugarcane is grown here) Greencane’s factory there has International Environmental Standard ISO14001 Certification, which means it’s subjected to annual external audits to make sure that their manufacturing process is environmentally friendly. It is also subject to multiple visits by founder Geoff. Greencane takes their customers’ trust seriously so they are “constantly monitoring for any non-complying human or environmental practices.”
As their products are white, bleaching is a concern. The sugarcane and bamboo fibers used in Greencane products require less bleaching than timber-based paper to begin with. However, as bleaching with chlorine-based chemicals contaminates waterways, Greencane does not use any chlorine-based bleaches.
PACKAGING & RECYCLING OPTIONS
Greencane uses plastic-free, 100% biodegradable, and certified compostable packaging. They use a combination of cardboard and paper, with a transparent window panel made of plant-based, naturally biodegradable cellophane. Their tissue boxes are also designed without a plastic insert.
According to their website, a customer who has home compost has informed them that their brown bag retail packaging breaks down in 30 days, their sticker label with plant-based glues breaks down in 60, and their cellophane composts in 90 days.
GIVING BACK & ADVOCACY
Greencane is a value-based business that has sustainaility at the heart of what it does. Part of that is supporting Cool Earth - a charity that “works alongside rainforest communities to halt deforestation and its impact on climate change.” They also support local charities where applicable.
DIVERSITY & INCLUSIVITY
Greencane is a small company with a focus on employing young people. Their brand representative tells us that “female-identifying employees make up 75% of the Greencane team.”
Household paper products like tissues, paper towels, and toilet paper may seem like a weird thing to be conscious about when discussing sustainability but it makes a lot of sense. These are single use, low-value items and yet trees are destroyed and lands are cleared to produce them. It doesn’t really make sense, especially when there are better, more sustainable alternatives. Greencane offers consumers that alternative. So, the next time you’re running low on tissues or toilet paper, check out Greencane products before heading to the supermarket and see if you like them. It’s a small change, but one that can make a big difference.
Greencane is available in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Europe.