How does production cost of absorbent paper compare to that of printer paper?

  • Thread starter cave_cat
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I know that right now an A4 page sells for 0.8 cents at Walgreens. So presumably the thing is dirt cheap at the factory gates. For toilet paper I don't have any handy store prices to quote, but I do have a nagging suspicion of being overcharged.

So, generally speaking, what is the economic difference between making absorbent paper for toilet paper and making regular paper for printing? Is absorbent paper inherently more expensive or cheaper to make, per kilogram or per square meter or per whatever relevant metric? Also, let's throw in the paper towel type absorbent paper into the comparison since it is somewhat different in properties from toilet paper, at least in case that the cost of making paper towel paper is significantly different from cost of making toilet paper.
 
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this is not a direct answer to my question above, but nevertheless an info tidbit that may shed some extra light on the question. Turns out there is a recently built Japanese invention called "White goat" which is a machine that converts office paper into toilet paper (apparently for recycling purposes or something like that). Relevant quote from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1247913/Loo-py-Japanese-machine-turns-office-paper-toilet-roll.html :
The oddly named 'White Goat' machine is 6ft-tall and weighs a hefty 94st.

It works using an automatic system that creates one new roll from 40 sheets of A4 in just 30 minutes.

Waste paper is fed into a shredder on the machine, which is then untangled and dissolved in a pulper. Any foreign matter is removed and the wet paper is thinned out and dried. Finally this is wound into toilet rolls, which emerge one at a time.
....
The machine shreds the paper and puts it through a process of pulping, thinning and drying
....
White Goat is going on sale this summer for the eye-watering price of $100,000 (£63,000). The machine would have to churn out 200,000 recycled rolls to break even. This would take at least 11 years if it was on constantly.
What to make of it in the context of this thread? I am not sure. I guess on the naive/intuitive level it suggests to me that toilet paper is somehow "simpler" than office paper. Usually simple things can be made from more complex ones using relatively low key processes (like a $100K machine that will get cheaper in subsequent iterations) while the reverse (like turning "simple" wood pulp into "complex" paper) often involves huge capital intensive factories.
 

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