The amazing supply chain of toilet paper
Never before has toilet paper enjoyed such publicity. The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) assured the country last month that there will not be a shortage of toilet paper in South Africa.
Toilet paper has become the definitive pandemic product that South Africans thought to stock up on, but the good news is that PAMSA reported that most packaging plants in South Africa are working at full capacity to ensure paper-based packaging gets to their customers in essential sectors.
With that being said, we’ll take you through the amazing supply chain of toilet paper.
How it’s made
Step 1 – Preparation
Once the trees have been chopped down and reach the factory where the toilet rolls are being made, they first go through the preparation stage. This is where a machine strips all the bark off the tree without removing too much wood.
Step 2 – Deconstruction
At the deconstruction stage, the wood is passed through a machine that turns the wood into wood chips. These chips are then separated into batches.
Step 3 – Digestion
This is the stage where the wood chip is turned into the pulp that is needed to make the toilet paper. In order to do this, the wood chip needs to be mixed with a variety of different chemicals. Heat is then added to the mix and is left for approximately 3 hours. This allows the moisture to evaporate, resulting in the mix being reduced to the pulp consisting of lignin, fibres, cellulose, and other substances.
Step 4 – Cleaning
The colour needs to be removed from the pulp and this is achieved by washing and bleaching it. At this stage, the lignin, which is used to bind the fibres together, must be removed or the toilet paper could start to turn yellow over time.
Step 5 – Pressing
Water is added to the pulp to create a paper stock. The paper stock, which is 99.5% water and 0.5 fibre, is then sprayed onto mesh screens to allow the water to drain. Once the water has drained, the paper is pressed and dried to a final moisture of 5%.
Step 6 – Production and Rolling
Metal blades scrape the paper of the mesh screens and then it is rolled onto large jumbo reels. The jumbo reels are then moved onto a different machine that cuts it into long strips and perforates the strips into squares.
Step 7 – Cutting
The final stage of the process sees the long strips of toilet paper cut into individual rolls. The individual rolls are then sent down the production line through a machine that will detect any defective toilet rolls which will be sent to the shredder. The remaining rolls are then wrapped, packed and shipped to stores across the country.