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Tubeless TP Technology

November 3, 2010

When Less is More

My Oct. 14 post discussed the joy of early discovery of the inner workings of toilet paper holders. The simple, ubiquitous device was my introduction to simple machines. Fast forward to today’s news of innovation in TP technology. Elimination of the roll’s inner tube! Here’s an idea I like a lot. Not only does it save resources and costs, this simple (not necessarily easy) improvement satisfies a higher design principle.

One of the cardinal rules of product design is to reduce and simplify components to achieve the most elegant design possible. Similarly in design for manufacturing and automated systems, why automate an operation if you can eliminate it. Simple, clean and lean. Like a good poem, there should be nothing included that doesn’t add value and nothing missing that’s needed. Tubular my Dear Watson!

USA Today reports:

Suddenly, there’s news in the $9 billion — but stagnant — toilet paper market. More important, it’s got a “green” halo.

The 17 billion toilet paper tubes produced annually in the USA account for 160 million pounds of trash, according to Kimberly-Clark estimates, and could stretch more than a million miles placed end-to-end. That’s from here to the moon and back — twice. Most consumers toss, rather than recycle, used tubes, says Doug Daniels, brand manager at Kimberly-Clark. “We found a way to bring innovation to a category as mature as bath tissue,” he says.

He won’t disclose the tubeless technology used but says it’s a special winding process. A similar process is used on tissue the company sells to businesses but not to consumers.

Behind the marketing push is a growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products. See full article…

Kimberly-Clark Introduces Scott Naturals Tube Free – The First Coreless Bath Tissue for the Home

DALLAS, October 28, 2010 – Making it easier for consumers to take a “green step” at home, Kimberly-Clark today announced the introduction of the first toilet paper in the U.S. without the cardboard tube for use at home – Scott Naturals Tube-Free bath tissue. This innovative product eliminates the cardboard tube that has been the central fixture of rolled toilet paper for more than 100 years – a simple step with major potential to eliminate millions of pounds of material from the waste stream. Scotts Naturals Tube-Free bath tissue is currently being tested exclusively at select Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in the northeast U.S.

“The Scott brand was the first to put bath tissue on a cardboard tube – and is now the first brand to eliminate the tube,” said Doug Daniels, brand manager of strategy and innovation for the Scott brand. “Scott Naturals Tube-Free bath tissue performs as well as traditional rolled toilet paper – while reducing material in the waste stream.” See full press release…

Let’s give the paper industry people credit. They solved the nasty TP first sheet pull off problem and now have eliminated the last sheet tear off tedium. Everyone likes a stone-free happy ending.

Now we just need to find alternatives for what we used discarded TP tubes for; pet toys, cable retainers, cheap horns and telescopes. Sadly they’ve become part of the innovation’s creative destruction cycle.

This tube-free,  exquisitely elegant TP innovation reminds me of something I think I first saw in Mad Magazine a million years ago, the quest for a hollow soap bar or soap cake.

We look this stuff up folks, so you don’t have to…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2010 1:37 pm

    I love this idea and your poem simile is right on. Elegant design at its best.

    Is this TP cool enough to make you switch though? Know we are both Cottonelle fans. I would be willing to try it as long as it’s price competitive with the cheapy brand I usually buy.

  2. November 4, 2010 1:50 pm

    Thanks Jes,

    I will certainly give the tubeless TP & towels a shot. If only to see how they work.

    I noticed this morning that the “expensive spread” TP I use has been getting narrower. I’m not sure when they started to shrink the width, but I suspect, like the incredible shrinking candy bar, they didn’t reduce the price.

    Why doesn’t the government do something!

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