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A Dutch Wastewater Treatment Plant is Turning Used Toilet Paper Into a Building Material

The Netherlands plan to use it for bike lanes.


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In the Netherlands, the toilet paper that the people use are usually made of high-quality fibers. And when they are already used, of course they end up as wastes and let to be rot in the sewage.

But some engineers say not so fast.

Under a two-year pilot project called Cellvation, the soiled toilet paper has been found with significant use by the Geestmerambacht wastewater treatment plant near Alkmaar in the Netherlands.

The Dutch plant now uses an industrial sieve to sift through sewage and collect the discarded toilet paper, getting 400 kg of cellulose, the natural fiber found in the toilet paper, on a daily basis.


Photo by SMART Plant

The water authorities in the Netherlands say that the Dutch flush away 180, tonnes of paper each year. This is a wise of the soiled toilet paper rather than incinerated at the end of the sewage treatment process.

After the cellulose is extracted, it is cleaned and sterilized with very high temperatures. The mass of cellulose is then turned into pellets, which can be used as a raw material for asphalt and building materials. Now the Netherlands plans to use the converted toilet paper into bike lanes.


Photo by SMART Plant

“In the Netherlands, a lot of paper flushes through the toilet and it’s a high-quality fibre,” said Carlijn Lahaye, managing director of CirTec, one of two companies behind the Cellvation project.

However, she acknowledged the fact that the quantities of cellulose processed by the project are currently too low to be profitable, but believes that the basic model is sound.

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“You remove something that costs energy to pump around, lower the operational cost, there’s more space to treat water and you get money for something that would be burnt as waste,” she added.

Noor Ney, head of sanitation with the Hollands Noorderkwartier (HHNK) water board, shared the Cellvation project isn’t the only schemes by the Dutch which attempts to extract value from sewage. AquaMinerals is in the same league, which is a company turning wasterwater into calcite pellets that is perfect for water softening and producing paints and ceramics.

“[Sewage] isn’t only waste: it is a carrier of valuable resources: phosphates, cellulose, energy and clean water,” said Ney.

Source: The Guardian

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