A much covered aspect of the Coronavirus pandemic is the global run on toilet paper. Supermarket scenes of people fighting over rolls, were quickly followed by explanations.
Irrational panic buying was the most common explanation for why toilet paper was selling out. If we could all resist the urge to panic buy there would be plenty, we were told.
However, according to Will Oremus, a senior writer at Medium, it turns out there really is a shortage of loo paper.
In an article entitled: What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage, he explains what is really going on.
“Toilet paper manufacturers are cranking out the same supply as always. And it’s not like people are using the bathroom more often, right?”
Well, when we suddenly stopped going to the toilet at work and started going more often at home there was a spike in demand for home toilet paper, which is distinctly different to the paper used in work, school and public toilets.
The home stuff is soft, fluffy, comes in small rolls and is made from a different kind of wood fibre to the large less fluffy rolls used in work, school and public toilets. The commercial stuff comes in large rolls, too big and heavy to fit on a home dispenser.
One US toilet paper maker estimates a 40% increase in home toilet paper consumption.
These different products have different supply chains. And because toilet paper is a bulky low value product, storing large quantities of it makes no economic sense, so there are no big warehouses full of the stuff.
And the shortage of home toilet paper isn’t going to fully abate until more of us return to work. Home toilet paper makers are unlikely to invest heavily in the machines required to increase production to meet a temporary demand spike.
For those preferring to remain open minded on the complex subject of toilet paper, Australian bush poet S. J. Paterson provides such wonder in his Ballad of Dunny Roll.
Medium.com article (in English)