Is Commercial Toilet Paper Cheaper? [1]

One of the features of the pandemic has been an obsession by some members of our community with having adequate supplies of that most basic and lowly domestic commodity, toilet paper. Much publicity has accompanied the sights of people stacking vast quantities of toilet paper into shopping trolleys and attempting to get these through supermarket checkouts without the staff triggering purchase limits, each time a lockdown was announced. Blog was bemused at the time as alternative supplies of commercial toilet paper had been stockpiled well in advance of the pandemic and it seemed strange most people were unable to have created their own emergency supplies well in advance of these events. Although as far as can be ascertained the lockdowns are over and with it the tendency of some in our community to panic buying, with inflation and price pressures hitting record highs in the wake of the pandemic it is now time to consider whether commercial bulk supplies of toilet paper are a cost effective alternative to domestic rolls.

One may remember in one’s youth the particular commercial format of flat packs of paper in small rectangular boxes that fitted into a slimline metal dispenser on the wall, these would typically have one box in use and one in reserve. These are now obsolete and everyone has upgraded to roll format all over New Zealand. So when it comes to commercial toilet paper supplies it is rolls, rolls and rolls. The suppliers can sell you bulk quantities of typical domestic size rolls, the main problem being the dispensers are hard to vandal proof, here Blog remembers a particular type of wall mounted holder that prevented the roll from being turned, blocking the well known trick of dropping the end of the paper tail into the toilet and flushing it, or outright bulk theft of paper for reuse at home. Nevertheless there are plenty of commercial premises where standard roll holders suffice in small office situations with a high degree of trust of staff, and a few manufacturers also produce theft resistant bulk roll holders, an example allows the rolls to be stacked with the bottom one feeding out paper through a slot. The rolls can usually be bought in large packs, for example 48 in one supplier’s offering.

The other type of format offered commercially is large size rolls that fit into a particular brand’s proprietary dispenser design. The dispensers usually have room for two rolls, either both full sized, or one full sized new roll and one smaller half used roll taken off the full sized spool when it gets used up a bit. The rolls are usually not perforated like domestic rolls, but the paper is easy to tear and cutting teeth may be built into the dispenser to aid this. Bulk theft and wastage is discouraged by making the rolls difficult to turn rapidly. Blog’s evaluation will focus on this format, as the rolls can often contain 200 metres or more of paper, making the size of one roll a substantial scale up from a domestic format roll which should help in economising. The particular brand and format chosen for comparison will be the Tork Jumbo Junior roll, which uses cardboard centres practically the same size as domestic rolls and is also practically the same width as these rolls, making it possible to fit JJ rolls into some domestic roll holders. The specific product being compared has a barcode number of 94 10150 42241 5 as marked on the packaging of a single roll, product code appears to be 22 42 241. The domestic roll format chosen will be the Value brand carried in Foodstuffs South Island supermarkets, specifically Marine 2 ply 180 sheets, the 12 pack of which carries a barcode of 94 15077 17858 2.

Well that is a good introduction to this series, the next part of the series in a few weeks will look at the comparison between the products, which takes in actual domestic usage and per unit (square metre of paper) pricing to come up with an objective cost comparison. Stay tuned…