Physical Plant unrolling new toilet paper

By Gus Bode

Physical Plant unrolling new toilet paper

New two-ply paper meant to cut expense; savings still unknown

The Physical Plant hopes to wipe away excess waste from its budget with a new kind of toilet paper.

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As part of an effort to reduce unnecessary spending, the campus restrooms are now stocked with two-ply toilet paper instead of the one-ply type that was formerly used, said Jay Brooks, superintendent of building services. The process of switching to two-ply toilet paper began in late January.

The 96-roll boxes are $5 cheaper-$26.25 instead of $31.25 for the one-ply. However, each roll has only 500 sheets compared to the one-ply rolls that provided 1,000 sections of toilet paper. Although there are fewer sheets, the idea is that people won’t tear as much from the rolls after they realize it’s thicker, Brooks said.

“The principle is that once folks get used to it, they’re using a little less,” he said.

But Nicholas Schrementi, a student janitorial worker, isn’t convinced. He believes that since the rolls have half as many sheets, users will tear off paper twice as quickly.

And recently, Schrementi has been noticing that he needs to change rolls more often in the Agriculture Building where he works.

“Who sits there and feels the softness or thickness?” said Schrementi, a sophomore in geography from Chicago Heights. “It’s coming off the rolls faster. I definitely see them using twice as much toilet paper. They go through it like crazy.”

But Brooks said the switch has saved the University money so far, and the usage will be evaluated on a continual basis to make sure finances aren’t going down the drain. If future evidence shows that the decision was a mistake, the Physical Plant will change back to one-ply toilet paper, he said.

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And the January switch wasn’t a decision made on a whim, either, if the study put into the campus toilet paper usage is any indication. Brooks said that from July to December of 2002, there was an increase of 23 additional one-ply cases compared to the same months of the prior year. With each case having 96 rolls, this means that students, faculty and staff went through an additional 2,208 rolls of toilet paper during the second half of 2002.

Brooks’ supplier suggested that to cut down on costs, he should stock SIUC with two-ply rolls, which are $6 a case cheaper. In the long-term picture, SIUC’s cost for toilet paper – $26.25 a case – is $7.51 less compared to what the Physical Plant paid a year and a half ago, Brooks said.

“We’re trying to find a way to save toilet paper,” he said. “The whole idea is about saving money. I wish we had the budget for comfort. It’s all in an effort to save money. We’re not going to waste one nickel.”

Brooks acknowledged that he’s received feedback from Schrementi about the additional usage, but stressed that complaints he has gotten are isolated instances. Prior to the switch, people went through the one-ply toilet paper too quickly, with the janitors needing to check restrooms every four hours, he said.

There’s still a remaining stock of one-ply toilet paper being used up at various locations on campus, so it may take a while to calculate the full savings, Brooks said. But in his latest study, which he says is unscientific, the results showed members of the SIUC community used fewer cases in February and March compared to last October and November, when one-ply toilet paper was dominant in restrooms.

As for the DAILY EGYPTIAN’s unscientific research, the majority of 40 students polled about the switch said they hadn’t noticed a change in the toilet paper this semester. Most said they are still using just as many sheets of toilet paper as they always have.

But one student was enthused about SIUC’s new toilet paper and hopes it’s here to stay.

“It treats my body much better than the one-ply,” said Bianca Brown, a junior in theater from Chicago. “It’s much softer, less harsh, and I’m glad SIU came up with two-ply.”

Schrementi said he respects Brooks; he just isn’t sure if the change is a wise move to make as the University faces a budget crunch.

“He’s not a bad guy,” Schrementi said. “I think he was intending to make a decision to save money. I don’t think this one was well-researched.”

Brooks said the change wasn’t made without foresight.

“The bottom line is we’re going to save money on toilet paper,” he said. “If there was a better thing to do, I wish somebody would tell me. This is a serious thing with us. It really is.”

Reporter Ben Botkin can be reached at [email protected]

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