Startup Néolithe recycles waste by fossilizing it!

Posted on 06 April 2021.

This startup transforms non-recyclable waste into aggregates that can be used in the construction industry. A solution helping cities reduce their CO2 emissions.

Thanks to a fossilization process, municipalities can reduce their CO2 emissions from household waste treatment by 80%.

Turning waste into stone. This is what the start-up Néolithe does. It was founded by Nicolas Cruaud, a young École Polytechnique graduate, his father William Craud, a stonemason turned inventor specializing in innovative concretes who is behind the idea, and Clément Bénassy, a AgroParisTech graduate.

The process developed by this crack team consists of grinding waste into a fine powder to which a binder is added - the recipe is of course secret – in order to obtain an aggregate, called "Anthropocite" (a nod to the geological era that began with the industrial revolution), which can then be used in road construction and concrete manufacturing.

The solution is aimed in particular at municipalities to help them reduce CO2 emissions linked to treating household waste.

 

Relocating waste management

The fossilizer developed by Néolithe is in the form of a turnkey containerized mini-plant. It can be installed on any site in just a day – and the required paperwork is just a simple declaration to the authorities. Waste treatment can therefore be carried out really close to where it is produced, which eliminates transportation-related CO2 emissions.

"Our fossilizer makes it possible to completely relocate waste management," explains the startup on its website. "A municipality can then treat all the household waste from a particular district right where it is produced - or indeed an industry can recycle its problematic waste right next to its factory."

 

Treating non-recycled waste

Each fossilizer has the capacity to treat 10 metric tons of waste per day, or 2,500 metric tons per year. According to Néolithe, the fossilization process can transform any type of non-hazardous, non-inert waste into mineral aggregates. However, the company specifies that the process is intended for treating waste without any specific recycling or treatment channels and that is currently incinerated or goes to landfill.

This includes some non-hazardous industrial waste, demolition site waste, and household waste - in the European Union the recycling rate in 2018 stood at only 47% (44% for France).

According to Nicolas Cruaud, Néolithe’s solution, which fits neatly into the municipalities' waste management systems, could help them reduce the CO2 emissions related to treating this household waste by as much as 80%. On a national scale, this could mean a 5% reduction in emissions!

The first Néolithe fossilizer should be operational, and Anthropocite aggregates certified for use in construction and public works, in the first half of 2021.