Procter & Gamble has bowed to industry pressure and agreed to halve the strength of its Charmin toilet roll – launched in the UK in February with a £27m advertising campaign – after accepting it could otherwise cause serious sewerage blockages.
P&G director of media and public affairs Gary Cunningham says: “We are going to reduce the strength of Charmin in the UK to the level it is in the US – about half that of the UK – because we don’t want the debate to continue. We won’t need to change the advertising because at the new level it will still have a pretty high wet strength.”
P&G’s climbdown followed industry meetings prompted by water industry concern that Charmin would not break down as quickly as its competitors, making it more likely to block a pipe or filter (MW March 23).
The meetings were held by industry body the Association of Makers of Soft Tissue Products (AMSTP) and attended by Kimberly-Clark, SCA Hygiene and Fort James – manufacturers of the Kleenex, Velvet, and Kittensoft and Nouvelle brands respectively – as well as P&G.
A statement from the AMSTP says the toilet tissue manufacturers have agreed an industry standard for “wet strength” which “is based upon US levels of dissolvability and dispersal”.
This means that the acceptable wet strength for a product in the UK should be the same as the highest wet strength product in the US, which happens to be Charmin.
Cunningham says the industry has agreed conservative wet strength criteria and points out that blockages would only become possible if all manufacturers marketed toilet rolls with a high wet strength.
Industry sources say it will not be expensive to modify the Charmin formula.