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Getty © What happens to toilet paper?

What happens to toilet paper?

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Toilet paper was made to be flushed down the loo and is composted eventually along with our, eh-hem, outputs.

Asked by: Nina Perkins, Knutsford


Toilet paper is made from short cellulose fibres, which is why it tears so easily. In water, those fibres quickly come untangled and form a thin sludge that’s easily carried by the water flow in the sewage system.By the time it reaches the sewage treatment plant, most of the toilet paper has completely disintegrated, and goes straight to the sludge digester tanks to be broken down into compost, along with the actual poop.

Anything more robust than toilet paper, such as flushable wipes, doesn’t break down, though, and has to be removed using a system of mesh filters, before going for landfill or incineration.

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Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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