This article "5 Seemingly Innocent Ways You've Screwed The World Today" on cracked.com contains the following claim:

Delicate American bottoms prefer plush, bleached white, multi-ply paper with all the toppings. We also use three times as much paper per person as, say, Europeans.

Is it true that Americans use three times as much toilet paper as Europeans?

  • 2
    How would you answer this question without inferring usage from sales while adjusting for population size? Jan 31, 2012 at 16:00
  • 5
    I'm European and people here like that fancy stuff too. I wouldn't take a content farm like Cracked.com too seriously.
    – puppybeard
    Jan 31, 2012 at 16:19
  • 3
    I think inferring usage from sales is reasonable.
    – Tom77
    Jan 31, 2012 at 16:25

1 Answer 1


The following is data for "tissue paper products ", which include:

  • toilet paper
  • handkerchiefs & facials
  • napkins
  • paper towels

From RISI:

Per capita consumption of tissue (2007):

Per Capita

Approximately two-thirds of US tissue consumption is in the consumer sector, or At-Home, while the rest (32%) is in the AfH (Away-from-Home) sector.

AfH tissue can be found in commercial and industrial settings such as office and government buildings, hotels, schools, airports, hospitals and highway rest stops -- anywhere restroom and kitchen facilities are not in a private home.

However, the popularity and availability of club stores, hypermarkets and some office supply chains have made it increasingly difficult to classify tissue sales as At-Home or AfH.

The North American tissue market is comprised of:


The US remains the largest single market because of its continued growth in the per capita consumption. It takes the worldwide lead at close to 24 kg, followed by Canada at 22 kg.

It should be noted that US per capita consumption of tissue continues to be much higher than western European consumption (slightly less than 16 kg), as it has for at least the last 20 years.

Both cultural and market differences between the US and western Europe contribute to this trend, including: the more advanced away from home (AfH) tissue sector in the US; the generally positive attitude towards consuming and shopping; the wider variety of tissue goods available; strong promotion of brands; and demographic/housing differences benefiting US tissue consumption over that of western Europe.

From the European Tissue Symposium (they credit RISI for the data):

Top 30

Eastern Europe

I could not find a breakdown of the European tissue market, so I cannot say how much of that is toilet paper.


  • Even though I found several sites with statistics, RISI seems to be the primary source.
    – Oliver_C
    Jan 31, 2012 at 17:36
  • 2
    And what is the breakdown of the European market? If there the percentage toilet paper is much higher than it is in the US the difference may well disappear into insignificance. E.g. it's extremely common in Europe to have regular towels rather than paper ones, so the percentage paper towels may well be much lower than for the US.
    – jwenting
    Feb 1, 2012 at 7:09
  • 1
    This answer says very little about toilet paper consumption if you don't know what's the breakdown of TP vs paper towels in Europe. AFAIK, in many places in Europe paper towels were replaced with hand driers due environmental concerns.
    – vartec
    May 15, 2013 at 11:07

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