Toilet paper, in its current form, has too much air, according to Roy Shihor.

He’s the founder of the box-based bamboo toilet paper company Bambox, which has just released a radically redesigned version of the conventional toilet paper roll. Those rolls, which date back 130 years and have changed remarkably little over the decades, are filled with air, Shihor explains. There’s air between each sheet to keep the paper fluffy and soft. There’s air in the large cylindrical hole at the center. And, in a more abstract way, there’s a lot of air around each roll’s curves as it sits in a rectangular package and gets shipped around the world.

Based in Tel Aviv, Bambox removes almost all of this air by turning the conventional roll of toilet paper into an accordion fold. “It’s stored in a square and the paper is square and it’s compressed to the maximum,” Shihor says. Each Bambox box can fit the equivalent of four or five rolls of fluffy toilet paper, and the overall weight of toilet paper that can fit in a shipment box is more than double that of conventional rolls.

But that doesn’t mean the paper itself is hard. On a recent video call Shihor showed that the paper decompresses when the box is opened, fluffing up with the air that’s crucial to toilet paper softness, which is in turn crucial to selling toilet paper. “The U.S. specifically, they love softness,” Shihor says. “They want soft paper.”

Shihor’s original intention wasn’t to reinvent the toilet paper roll, but to urge the transition away from wood-based toilet paper and paper towels to more sustainable (if environmentally imperfect) bamboo, a material now being used by several toilet paper brands. Importing bamboo toilet paper from Asia, he quickly found out, would be incredibly expensive for how much toilet paper he could get. “Half of the cost that I’d pay for importation goes only for the container,” says Shihor, whose background is in data analysis. Even packing a container to the brim with toilet paper rolls wouldn’t pencil out. “As a data-driven guy I went head on and started researching and looking for more space efficient solutions,” he says.

He reviewed about 4,000 patents for toilet paper and packaging and realized that a straightforward redesign could vastly increase the space efficiency of toilet paper. “It’s simply changing the geometry,” he says.

But changing the fundamental shape of one of the most familiar and widely used products proved to be a controversial idea. “I approached over ten studios of product and industrial design. Everyone told me, ‘Roy, this is the atom. You don’t break the atom,'” he says.

So Shihor decided to do it himself. What he came up with is zig-zagging paper packed inside a tissue paper box with cereal box-like openings. One folds out to create a place where the box can be hung on a typical bathroom’s toilet paper roll holder, and the other opens to allow the paper to be pulled out from the top. This design, which Shihor says can be manufactured easily, came after he tried more than 300 other prototypes. “You should have seen my living room,” he says.

More efficient alternatives to the conventional roll do already exist, including core-less rolls and the thin, Z-folded toilet paper sheets one might find in an elementary school bathroom. The downside of these, Shihor says, is they typically require the installation of a new kind of hardware to hold the toilet paper. Bambox’s box design fits in with what most bathrooms already have. “We don’t want to change the habits of the customers,” he says.

Bambox has already secured several patents, primarily for its packaging and concept, not for bamboo toilet paper, Shihor says. He even refers to Bambox as being focused on “sustainable packaging solutions.”

But he’s also hoping to reform the toilet paper and paper towel industries, and is looking to expand. For paper towels, Bambox is planning to start selling direct to consumers and on Amazon in the coming months. For toilet paper, Shihor says he’s pursuing partnerships with larger manufacturers and toilet paper companies to scale the concept.

Bambox is currently only available in Israel, at a few stores where Shihor says the concept is in a kind of pilot stage and boxes on shelves number in the thousands. Taking production to a higher scale, he says, can produce a wide range of environmental savings, from more efficient shipping to less wasted fuel to more sustainably farmed base materials. And that was where this concept started, with the idea to find a way to use fewer trees for a single-use product that is literally flushed down the toilet. “If you can scale it, that’s millions of trees a year that can be saved,” he says.

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The toilet paper roll may have just been dethroned

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23.05.2023

Toilet paper, in its current form, has too much air, according to Roy Shihor.

He’s the founder of the box-based bamboo toilet paper company Bambox, which has just released a radically redesigned version of the conventional toilet paper roll. Those rolls, which date back 130 years and have changed remarkably little over the decades, are filled with air, Shihor explains. There’s air between each sheet to keep the paper fluffy and soft. There’s air in the large cylindrical hole at the center. And, in a more abstract way, there’s a lot of air around each roll’s curves as it sits in a rectangular package and gets shipped around the world.

Based in Tel Aviv, Bambox removes almost all of this air by turning the conventional roll of toilet paper into an accordion fold. “It’s stored in a square and the paper is square and it’s compressed to the maximum,” Shihor says. Each Bambox box can fit the equivalent of four or five rolls of fluffy toilet paper, and the overall weight of toilet paper that can fit in a shipment box is more than double that of conventional rolls.

But that doesn’t mean the paper itself is hard. On a recent video call Shihor showed that the........

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