When toilet paper paves the way

The first cycle path made using recycled toilet paper has been built in Holland. This nine-kilometer cycle path connects Leeuwarden and Stiens in the north of the country.

A two-year pilot project, launched in June 2017 by CirTec and KNN Cellulose, is at the origin of the development of this novel road.

Who would have thought that used toilet paper could serve another purpose?
However, this is the case in Holland where the first bike path using recycled toilet paper has been built. A two-year pilot project, launched in June 2017 by CirTec and KNN Cellulose in the Geestmerambacht wastewater treatment plant near Alkmaar, is at the origin of the development of this novel road. Code name: Cellvation.

This project aims to extract cellulose fibers, a natural polymer used in toilet paper, from wastewater for reuse in new products.
Cellulose is usually incinerated at the end of the wastewater treatment process, which is a shame given the taste of the Dutch for luxury toilet paper resulting in the presence of high quality cellulose fibers in wastewater, Carlijn Lahaye, Managing Director of CirTec, told The Guardian.

Cellulose is recovered using a solid/liquid separation filter system. It is then cleaned, sterilized at a very high temperature, dried, and then transformed into a grey cottony material or pellets.
This raw material can therefore be sold as a secondary raw material and can be used in a number of products, such as asphalt or other building material, including insulation. Part of the cellulose produced daily at Geestmerambacht (400 kg per day) is also exported to the UK, where Brunel University is working on converting it into biocomposites.
 

Circular urban wastewater management

The Cellvation project is part of a broader Europe-wide initiative called SMART-Plant  intended to promote circular urban wastewater management.
The recovery of the cellulose contained in used toilet paper as a secondary material also reduces the quantity of sewage sludge and saves energy and money.
 

Main picture ©Getty Image

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