Tankis Matt O’Crowley and Mark Collins are pictured with the award-winning toilet paper
The award-winning tanki from Shrewsbury is both glue and plastic-free and is aimed at the marine and leisure market in addition to household use.
37-year-old founder Matt O’Crowley is a former deck officer in the Merchant Navy and switched careers when the pandemic hit after discovering he was not eligible for vacation pay.
He said he turned to toilet paper because everyone needs it and there is a niche in the market for a brand that doesn’t clog the world’s sewer systems or seas with material that is harmful to marine life. With more than 1,000 direct customers, sales have already come from Spain, Greece and Singapore as well as Nova Leisure, the largest supplier to British caravan parks.
Matt, who was joined by business associate Mark Collins in the early days, said, “One day my toilet blocked and I suddenly remembered all the places in the world where there was a trash can next to the toilet because the sewer system wasn’t there able to cope.
“This led to reflections on how the same problem persists with ships, yachts, caravans and houses with rickety plumbing that may be connected to septic tanks and sewage treatment systems. Everything at that point pointed to smelly old tanks and Tanki was born.”
The paper can be safely washed into the Arctic as it complies with marine pollution regulations.
Backed by £ 20,000 from a start-up loan through the Biz Britain program and private investments, Tanki has grown in strength.
It received the “Maritime UK Innovation Award” within a few months of its birth and received great support from broadcasting giant ITV in a major advertising campaign.
With business advisors forecasting £ 1 million in first-year sales, Tanki has turned down venture capitalists who want stocks, and Matt has inspired other would-be business owners with his no-nonsense tips.
He added: “Life on board ships is permanently shaped by the misery of blocked sewage systems. Not only are these clogs due in no small part to the glue in the toilet paper, but when ordinary paper is flushed it sends plastic straight into the ocean. The discharge due to Covid gave us the opportunity and the impetus to do something about it.
Off-grid homes are increasingly using the same technology as cruise ships to dispose of their waste, which means the same problems exist on land as they do at sea.
“It may come as a surprise that the humble toilet roll contains much more than just two or three sheets of very thin, biodegradable paper. Typically, each roll of two-ply toilet paper contains 2.7 grams of laminating glue and plasticizer that bind the sheets together.
“It is currently impractical to prohibit users from flushing paper down the toilet, as has been the case in some countries and cities, but these adhesives and nanoplastics cannot be effectively filtered out and treated in a sewage treatment plant. Adhesives are the main cause of toilet paper clogging pipes and creating a slow moving sludge that leads to clogged pipes and drains and damage to treatment systems. “
Tanki is made from virgin cellulose, a by-product of residential wood, obtained from proven sustainable and actively managed sources. The supply chain and production facility are both rated and approved by the FSC with BRC Grade A.
Matt says Tanki’s success so far has been intoxicating.
He said, “I am proud that we were able to build and maintain an international business during the most difficult pandemic in the modern Western world.
“Starting a business is usually a hectic round of personal networking, but that wasn’t an option for us – everything was done remotely, which means a high level of trust is placed in people and other businesses. Fortunately, we have all shown tremendous kindness and support.
“Business has developed exactly as planned and will exceed all expectations as new markets continue to open up for the product.
“The intent now is to have tanki in every boat, trailer, farmhouse and off-grid home in the UK.”