Featured image for Bambox Squares Up Against The Toilet Paper Roll As A More Sustainable Alternative

Bambox Squares Up Against The Toilet Paper Roll As A More Sustainable Alternative

by Rudy Sanchez on 06/19/2023 | 3 Minute Read

Bambox is a paper startup based in Tel Aviv. Founded by Roy Shihor, Bambox found inspiration in his learning that toilet paper in East Asia commonly gets made using bamboo, a sustainable and highly renewable source of fiber. 

Shihor initially set out to bring bamboo toilet paper to Israel, but he discovered that importing it didn’t make environmental or financial sense. Still motivated by a passion for a sustainable version of conventional TP, he put his data analytics background and design skills to redefine a product whose basic format hasn’t changed in 130 years since the Scott Paper Company first popularized the TP roll.

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“The most fragile component of the tissue industry is the supply chain, which accounts for a significant portion of tissue roll products' costs,” Shihor said. “Having a supply chain made of rectangular storage spaces and filling them with hollow, round fluffy objects doesn't make any sense.”

According to Bambox, supply chain costs are 50% less than conventional toilet paper. In logistics, low-weight, high-volume packages are more expensive due to the cubic footage it takes up. It also means more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as more trips are required to ship the same amount of paper.

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While conventional rolls come packed together in layers of plastic for safety, then packed in a cardboard box to fit in the square world of palettes, warehouses, and stock rooms, Bambox paper comes inside a box, compressed and sealed. The tissues get folded in an easy-to-dispense way, and the outer box can hang off existing toilet paper roll holders. The paper fluffs as it gets dispensed, so the experience is similar to rolled bath tissues.

“In terms of design, I had to rethink how users use the tissue roll and their habits, then abstractly isolate these functions and preserve them while reinventing a familiar, easy-to-use user interface for them as I reconstructed them in a box,” Roy explained. “Making cardboard act reliably and seamlessly with most population groups and different types of existing roll holders is more challenging than other materials.”

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According to Shihor, he went through about 300 iterations before landing on the current version of the Bambox. As a practically universal product, in addition to making a more sustainable alternative to the roll, Roy considered all users and minimized any behavior change. Of course, reinventing the toilet paper roll is hard enough work, but Shihor also found securing intellectual property (IP) rights tricky.

“A major challenge was to obtain IP rights on such an abstract concept that works with any type of paper,” Roy said. “I had to ‘hack’ my way in by extensively studying prior art and avoiding repeating past attempts, ultimately creating a design that surpasses the usage experience of the traditional rolls without changing the user's behavior.”

Shihor’s concept isn’t confined to the bathroom, as Bambox developed an alternative to kitchen paper rolls. While they designed the bath tissue version of the Bambox to work with most holders, the kitchen version comes for horizontal holders rather than vertical stands.

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Breaking free of the everyday toilet paper roll (and the mega packs confined to the back of Target and Walmart) might seem like a huge ask. But Bambox takes a product almost everyone uses and significantly reduces emissions while lowering logistics costs and not changing the user experience too much. Plus, it unintentionally makes the toilet paper over/under debate moot, as Bambox dispenses tissues one way [Editor's note: the "mullet" is sacrilege].

But Shihor has another goal as well.

“I see Bambox as the square peg in the square hole. Hopefully, it inspires more designers to approach their work with this mindset, as it can save millions of tons of GHG emissions.”


Images courtesy of Bambox.