When one hears the word “sustainability”, a few things such as water consumption, fast fashion and food waste come to mind, but never toilet paper. It's safe to say there isn’t enough awareness in our everyday lives about the impact its production has on the environment. To quote Alex Crumbie of Ethical Consumer (2019), “there is no need to cut down forest to make toilet rolls, yet this is precisely what is happening.”
And so, The Good Roll to the rescue! Distinctive in their humour and personality, one can’t help but be curious about the team behind their quirkiness.
TIAS School for Business and Society
Born in 2017, The Good Roll is the brainchild of Sander de Klerk and Melle Schellekens who, at the time, were regular guys operating businesses within the nightclub/restaurant sphere, when a nudge to start a business that would have a lasting impact on society overcame them.
They wanted to come up with a business concept that was going to incorporate social equity within its business model. Much to the surprise of their families, who thought they had gone mad, part of the reason why they ran with this idea was so that they could build toilets for people who needed them most and restore their sense of dignity. Sander reiterated this by saying:
“Toilets are mostly ignored. People are thinking about other things such as water and the like. Toilets are not sexy and we make them sexy. We make them orange and green!”
Upon many brainstorming sessions, they developed an innovative business model to manufacture and sell toilet paper made out of recycled paper. They wanted to do their bit in combating climate change caused by cutting down trees for the purpose of making paper. What makes The Good Roll’s value proposition so compelling is their incorporation of multiple SDGs (1,3,6,10,12,13) into their business model. They not only make a positive impact on climate change, but they also employ upwards of 40 people with disability. Moreover, they contribute 50% of their proceeds to building toilets for communities in Ghana.
Sander described having a special attachment to Africa, especially Ghana. The emotional bond that he has developed to this land, which started after visiting the region as a young traveler, made him realize that he wanted to become a force for good and create a positive impact in this community. In these communities, people do not have a proper toilet to use, exposing them to significant health risks. Seeing this reality, he wanted to dedicate his efforts to building a solution. Moreover, the related foundation (see below) also educates communities about hygiene habits and prevention. Finally, locals are trained to maintain these facilities, equipping them with new skills.
The Good Roll creates a positive impact on the planet while protecting the environment. They use clean production methods where no trees must be sacrificed to manufacture the paper. The production process does not include the use of chlorine, artificial colors, and fragrances. They have adopted a circular business model where reusing materials is key. This sustainable way of operating the business reduces deforestation, water consumption, air pollution and other negative effects associated with standard paper production methods. According to The Good Roll estimations, they have already saved 1,080 trees from destruction, impacting more than 8,000 lives with their operations.
The Good Roll's mission about providing safe and clean toilets for everyone has inspired the founder team to reimagine the way tissue paper is produced and commercialized, whilst allowing different actors to be positively impacted by these commercial activities. First, the Good Roll's product portfolio is designed in a very sustainable way. The raw materials used are 100% recycled paper and packaging is free of plastic. The product's packaging is also characterized by colorful designs and fun messages. The Good Roll definitely knows how to keep their customers engaged by introducing QR codes in their packaging that leads to games and other interactive activities. All the details about the customer experience are designed to break the schemes and create a “wow moment”. The business model is based on subscriptions that allow customers to regularly receive the paper that they need in a sustainable way. The Good Roll is also characterized by a remarkable organizational culture, where diversity and inclusion is a key element, and people work together following a common purpose. All these elements help the company to connect with customers who want to be a force for good while having a memorable experience with the brand, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. As part of their strategy of continuous innovation, The Good Roll is building a factory in Ghana where bamboo-made paper will be manufactured. This is another innovative solution to produce sustainable paper, and could become an alternative to recycled paper, which is increasing each day in price.
Additionally, the company has extended its impact through The Good Roll Foundation that has the mission to provide access to safe and clean sanitation. The Foundation has relevant operations in Ghana, where they have built multiple sanitary and sustainable facilities for the public. Fifty percent of the profits made by The Good Roll are used for building toilet facilities in Ghana. Sander graphically described the relevance of this initiative by saying “2.4 billion people are forced to use the toilet under unsanitary conditions.”
In the long-term, The Good Roll is showing the world that an alternative way of doing business is possible as the world is facing a dire situation when it comes to paper wastage. This process requires high deforestation with an estimated 27,000 trees cut everyday just to make toilet paper. The paper and pulp industry account for approximately 40% of all global deforestation. In terms of water wastage, over 13 liters and 380 gallons of water and oil are used to produce 1 A4 size paper and a single ton of paper. Paper production causes significant amounts of air pollution; in 2015 for example, paper production was the second largest cause of air pollution by industry in the US. Around 26% of the material at landfills is wastepaper.
There is no doubt that The Good Roll is one of the welcome and refreshing game changers in the paper industry.
Sander de Klerk, Founder & Chief Rolling Officer at the Good Roll
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Europe and Africa, NL
Business Website: https://thegoodroll.com/en
Year Founded: 2017
Number of Employees: 51 to 200
The Good Roll follows the mission of providing safe and clean toilets for everyone! They are dedicated to manufacturing and commercializing 100% recycled toilet paper. The Good Roll also uses 50% of their net profit to build toilets in various countries in Africa.