Netherlands-born Sander de Klerk is Founder and Chief Rolling Officer for the Good Roll company. Here, he explains the motivation behind the team.
As a consumer of tissue and towel products for many years now, post-2017 my requirements for these products were fairly standard. I have always bought simple non-branded toilet paper because I had no real awareness of this wonderful product, nor the diversity and innovations behind toilet roll and kitchen towel products. I could say I was willing to pay a little bit more for green credentials for these retail items, but only if they were controlled and genuinely certified.
Fast-forward to 2023 however, and it’s a very different story! I am now a co-owner of a Ghanaian-based tissue plant that produces colourfully-wrapped toilet tissue made from bamboo. And my family home and office? The simple non-branded products have vanished and been replaced by happy, funny, and colourfully-wrapped toilet tissue rolls. I founded ‘The Good Roll’ company along with Melle Schellekens five years ago, and since then we have sold colourfully-wrapped toilet rolls made from post-consumer recycled fibres. We wanted to make an impactful business model, and now use sheltered workplaces around the Netherlands to wrap our rolls so we can make an impact in our home country as well as in Africa.
The idea for the business was that we wanted to make a traditional product that consumers use every day a little bit ‘sexier’. That’s how our colourful wraps were born. We started selling to the consumer market as a subscription model and are now aiming for 20,000 subscribers this year with a two till four timer delivered annually. We also sell our products into the retail and AfH markets in Europe and Africa.
It all started in a small office in Amsterdam six years ago and after three years of growth we had three warehouses in Weesp near Amsterdam. Originally a B2C business, we now also sell our products in the B2B and the retail space. The aim is still to be a ‘’producer’’ of tree-friendly toilet paper, and to use this as a tool to make an impact on the African continent, which is where one of our founders is from.
In 2022 we opened our own 10 ton dedicated bamboo toilet paper factory in Ghana which makes toilet roll from bamboo sticks. It’s located on a space of land that was previously jungle, and from there we realise local jobs and sell toilet paper to Europe and the local market. Through our plant, using 50% of our net profit we are also involved in building sanitary complexes in areas where this is not currently available. We started mainly around school sites to give children the opportunity to have a hygienic toilet at their disposal.
We have a strong chosen strategy to reduce plastic across our business and we now sell more volume on one roll and use alternative fibres in paper production. Supermarkets are creating shelf space for companies like ours even if consumers must pay a bit more for the product.
We nicknamed 2020 “the toilet paper crisis year”. The Covid period has been a successful time for our business, and our e-commerce grew 100% in that year. We have also seen growth double in the last few years with the B2B and retail part of our business increasing during the pandemic, so much so that funding for a second 50 ton factory in Africa is now in the pipeline for the third quarter of 2023.
The Good Roll’s credentials
Makers of 100% European recycled paper (non-bamboo)
No chlorine, colourants or fragrances
In Ghana, 100% bamboo production
• 2.3 billion people with no access to safe and clean toilets
• 27,000 trees cut down daily to produce toilet paper
• Initiative to tackle both problems… a unique Dutch concept: a 100% tree-friendly toilet roll, made from European recycled paper
• Safe and clean toilets for everyone
• To donate 50% of net profit to construct toilets in Ghana