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Toilet paper paves the way for Dutch cyclists

The Netherlands – Dutch firm CirTec has opened its first facility designed to sieve all cellulose particles from the region’s wastewater to convert used toilet paper into a construction material for bicycle paths.

The cellulose is separated from contaminants, quenched of all liquids, dried and subjected to a high-temperature purification process to ensure a hygienic end product comprising pellets and a fluffy material.

A two-year pilot scheme, which saw the construction of several toilet paper-derived bicycle paths, has indicated that the processed cellulose can be used in a wide range of applications, including asphalt, home insulation and fibre rags. CirTec’s UK partner Brunel University is investigating use of the material as a fuel and in creating bio-plastic bottles.

One of the factors supporting these high-calibre recycling opportunities is the Dutch public’s preference for premium toilet paper brands, CirTec notes. More than 180 000 tons of toilet paper are flushed away in the Netherlands every year, it believes.

By next year, the company hopes to be operating on a large scale. The new facility in the city of Purmerend is part of the EU’s Horizon2020 SMART-Plant project focusing on the scaling-up of low-carbon-footprint material recovery techniques in existing wastewater treatment plants.

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