Toilet Paper Bicycle Lanes

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Problem: wastewater treatment plants consume a lot of energy to filter out toilet paper that has been flushed. In addition, the final incineration process ends up destroying valuable resources in wastewater sludge that can be repurposed, one of which is cellulose.

Solution: filtering out cellulose found in wastewater and reusing it as an aggregate for porous asphalt that can be used for infrastructure such as bicycle lanes.

  • In the Netherlands, roads are paved with a porous asphalt called open-graded asphalt friction course. Cellulose is a key ingredient that is added to hold the wet mix together during paving.
  • Cellulose is a key byproduct of the 180,000 tons of toilet paper found in wastewater annually in the Netherlands.
  • An industrial sieve filters out cellulose from wastewater before it is cleaned, sterilized, and dried. The result is a viable admixture for the porous asphalt.
  • In addition to asphalt for bicycle lanes, the repurposed cellulose could theoretically be recycled into paper, filters, building insulation, and textiles.

Stakeholders:

  • wastewater treatment plants
  • municipal water authorities

First 3 Steps:

  • identify wastewater treatment plants that are overburdened and are interested in reducing their solid waste
  • find industrial manufacturers willing to partner for a program to repurpose cellulose from wastewater into aggregate mixtures
  • continue to search for new ways to repurpose wastewater cellulose for industrial products

Sources:

https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/09/bike-path-recycled-toilet-paper-netherlands/541326/

http://mentalfloss.com/article/504999/netherlands-paving-its-roads-recycled-toilet-paper

Response to Fully Circular Furniture:

This is a fantastic enterprise innovation, especially in a world where furniture is increasingly priced to be disposable and designed not to be recyclable. However, the article and the manufacturer do not delve into how the product packaging fits into the sustainability ethos. I would like to know if there was any thought put into it, as trash from furniture packaging is a substantial component of the product’s waste potential. I appreciate how the furniture was designed to optimize the recurring use of individual components. Design in the packaging to be minimal and zero-waste would be the next step.

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One thought on “Toilet Paper Bicycle Lanes

  1. This is great reuse of toilet paper – love the concept! I wonder what the O&M of the toilet paper road be compared to the regular roads? More? Less? If less, this would reduce the O&M cost of the project and perhaps be a viable financial investment.

    Like

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