A shortage of high-quality paper for recycling could mean scratchy toilet tissue. To keep consumers happy and avoid any chafed rear ends, companies are now on a quest to find new paper supplies, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN). Those of you who know The Shad are aware that the term “news junkie” applies, but no, I don’t read C&EN; this was brought to my attention.

The problem: Consumers once could fill up large bins with their recycled newspapers, magazines and print paper. But as electronic communication urges, these sources of recycled paper are becoming scarce.

The shortage could impact those who choose toilet paper with a bulky amount of recycled material, but most household tissue products contain very little recycled paper, according to the WWF, an international environmental organization—not Linda McMahon’s idea of entertainment.

For those who prefer the eco-brands, high-end choices are more than about status. High-quality paper contains long cellulose fibers with intact cell walls, so it can be used to make high-end products, including toilet paper. The gold standard is virgin pulp from newly harvested trees whose fibers are long and strong. Each time that paper gets recycled, the fibers become shorter and weaker, with lower-quality brown paper producing recycled material with the shortest, weakest fibers.

I know. I’m shocked about this as well.